[photopress:family_908.jpg,thumb,pp_style]By Nettie H. Francis
I am NOT a politically correct mother. I discriminate based on age and gender, and whether or not you’ve finished your homework. (For example, those who have may go out and play.) I insist that girls wear dresses and boys wear ties to special occasions. I teach my girls to cook and sew, and my boys to dig ditches and mow lawns.
If you are older, you may have privileges younger siblings don’t enjoy, like staying up late or watching particular movies. We also pray before every meal, even if our non-church-going friends are visiting. And, we celebrate Christmas. So, as you can see, I’m not politically correct. In fact, you could say I’m a bit old-fashioned, in values and in parenting.
As trends in the world tend toward political correctness, (trying to make everyone feel good) many current parenting philosophies have also been “watered down” until they are nothing more than generalized suggestions to parents, trying not to offend even the naughtiest child. The truth is that children are an “Heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3), and parents are morally responsible to teach their children in truth and righteousness, even if the truth sometimes hurts.
I am not an expert, but I often observe parents who are so afraid of “stunting a child’s personality” or inhibiting “who they really are” that they let their children run wild with no respect for rules or boundaries. Even within the church I know good parents who dearly want the best for their children, yet never can seem to corral them long enough to teach them the gospel.
Some mothers gently “suggest” to their children that they sit quietly in church, or plead with them to be kind. The mother is afraid of sounding too mean, and as a result, the children run the family. As mothers we should be gentle and kind. But just as God is gentle and kind and full of charity, he also has commandments which we must follow, or else the punishments will be painful and often eternal.
While I readily claim that I am not a parenting expert, I have had several mothers ask me for suggestions on raising children. And so, while I do not wish in any way to sound presumptuous, I gladly share ideas that have worked for my husband and me.
Idea #1: STRICT SUCCESS:
Parenting experts often label parents in four categories: 1-Lenient and Cold, 2-Lenient and Loving, 3-Strict and Cold and 4-Strict and Loving. While some experts claim that successful children are raised by either Lenient and Loving parents or Strict and Loving parents (the key factor being love), other family specialists state that the most successful children come from parents who are not only loving but somewhat strict as well. My parents were strict by some standards, but because we respected them so much, they could easily teach us.
In strict yet loving homes there are not necessarily a lot of “rules,” rather, the boundaries are mutually understood. Strict merely defines that there are clear standards which children are expected to observe. I have learned that when I let my children get away with inappropriate actions, it becomes impossible to truly have love or the Spirit in our home.
However, when there is a mutual feeling of respect, the love can flow easily, and we can all feel the Spirit. Children who are held accountable are also happier. Therefore, I generally require that my children toe the line—do their jobs, don’t talk back, be kind to each other, go to bed, to meals and to school on time, and sit reverently at church. My experience has been that a little bit of “strict” can lead to a lot of success.
Idea #2: TO SPANK OR NOT TO SPANK:
For many parents, that is the question. While church leaders and family specialists can be quoted on both sides of the argument, I can only give my personal opinion. And that is, sometimes a misbehaving child just needs a good spanking. When one of my children receives a spanking, it tends to improve the behavior of all of my children—like getting six birds with one stone.
Now, before you think I’m mean, remember that a paddle on the rear is different than an abusive strike. A spanking gets a child’s attention, and it reminds him who’s in charge. My own personal observations show a distinct difference between families whose children get a spanking once or twice in their lives, and those who just receive a good “talking to.”
Those who’ve never felt the righteous wrath of a parent seem to always have that mischievous glint in their eye, never fully respecting authority. Spanking is old-fashioned, but then again, so am I.
Idea #3: BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS:
Parenting books are plentiful and varied in the advice they give, and finding methods that work for you can be almost like searching for the true church. It is best to find one or two books that both parents can agree with and stick to the philosophies taught within them. One of my personal favorites is, Children: The Challenge, by Rudolf Dreikurs. Recommended to us years ago, we have found it a helpful and objective look at parenting, with methods that both my husband and I agree on.
Idea #4: LEARN FROM THE LAW:
When the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, they were given the Law of Moses. It included ten very straightforward commandments and clear consequences for those who didn’t comply.
Hundreds of years later, after the Israelites had learned to live the Law of Moses, Christ came and introduced a new law. This law was gentle, with room for one to make choices based on his previous experience and knowledge. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is a much different focus than “An eye for an eye.”
Parents can use these laws as guidelines to their parenting timeline. When children are young, they need clear, immediate consequences for wrong doing. For example, “If the table is not set by dinner time, you will miss your supper.” As children grow and mature, consequences imposed by the parents can become less severe, with more room for personal decisions and growth.
When teenagers make mistakes, perhaps a good talk with a parent is all they need. Parents who try to switch this pattern—let children live freely while they’re young and then try to crack down on them as they grow older—will find it nearly impossible to train a wild child.
My parenting philosophies make it obvious that I am old fashioned. Political correctness has no place in my style. Right and wrong and black and white are still two separate issues. Time will tell whether or not my principles and practices have been correct—not politically correct, but parenting correct.