December 05, 2006

The Old Ways Are Not Necessarily Wrong… There May Just Be A Better Way!

"Back when I was a kid..."

As we look at parenting techniques, it is important to never rely on the phrase, “When I was a kid, my parents would have…” Simply because something was done to you as a child is no reason to do that same thing to your children! Please do not think that I am saying that everything that our parents did with us was wrong. On the contrary, most of what our parents did with us was probably the best that they could do with what they knew at the time!

The point is that there might just be a BETTER WAY to approach some of these issues. In making this point I often like to help parents to realize that the challenges of raising children in our generation are not necessarily worse than they used to be… they may just be different. Too many parents have bought the idea that “there has never been a tougher time to raise children.” I disagree! However I do believe that this era presents its’ own new, unique, and difficult challenges.

Our family has, in our possession, a diary of our great, great, great, grandparents crossing the plains in a covered wagon. In the handwritten entry made on about the eighth or ninth day of the long trek across the western half of North America, they wrote of burying an eight-year-old daughter who died during the night, and then traveling eight or nine more miles that same day. I have to believe that was a rather difficult time to raise children too. The lessons needed to simply preserve life and the challenges of living were so different back then, that the parenting practices of that era would probably would not be particularly valuable if transferred from that generation to ours. Many of the skills those parents needed to teach to their kids as the family crossed to plains in their covered wagon would be most likely be worthless lessons for the children of today.

Conversely, the skills we need to teach our children today about drug-free living, and Internet safety would have been worthless to my ancestors as they were crossing the plains!

Now, I am in agreement that the lessons of honesty and integrity would be relevant to each generation of youngsters but even those wonderful lessons might require a different method of teaching.

Question Techniques

If we are willing to admit that some lessons might not apply to our children today, does it not stand to reason or just seem logical for parents to question some of the techniques parents used to use teach children as well? If we need to teach different skills could it not be possible that we need to teach some of those skills using some new and different techniques.

A Great Lesson

Also, there is a great lesson all parents need to learn no matter what age of their children or what the current parenting challenges may be. That valuable lessons it that “it is insanity to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result!”

The other day I was called by a distraught mother who was upset because her 6-year-old son was so unruly and wild in grocery stores and shopping malls. Her statement to me was, “I try to be consistent with him and I spank him every time he misbehaves! I just don’t know what to do. It is just not working!”

When I suggested to her that she practice the desired behavior at home before going on a shopping trip she said that might take too much time. I also suggested that she explain the rules to her son. Tell him that if he uses the practiced behavior then they will complete their shopping trip, but if he varies from the practiced behavior they will leave and go home.

To this the mother then said to me, “Well, if we just go home, won’t I be punishing myself? Why isn’t the spanking sufficient?” She actually was suggesting that she some how wanted to do exactly the same thing that had not worked for six years and she wanted me to tell how she could do that and expect it to work!

Try It! Who Knows, It Might Work!

When some one gives you a suggestion for a change in your parenting technique, do not insist on doing it the “Old Way”! If the new way is not a violation of your personal values and ethics, give it a try. You will never know if the new technique will work until you try it.

Usually the moment when parents actually start to see that the techniques taught in the Parenting with Dignity course is when they actually try them. When they actually go home and complete the assignment is when they see that there are some new ways of doing things the actually do work!

What Do You Know, a New Technique Worked!

By the way, that lady called back three days later just raving about how simple it was to practice for a little bit before going to the store! She said she could not believe how simple that was to do.


mcewen said...

I for one, am a completely different parent to the one I was 20 plus year s ago. Adapt and survive.
Best wishes to you and yours

Mac said...

If common sense is so common, why is there not more of it? Daily, I work with parents who just need a "jump-start" on using their own common sense in raising their own children. I honestly believe that what we are offering parents with the Parenting with Dignity program is a chance to start thinking, very purposefully, about what they actually want to teach their children! Once they get started, effective parenting becomes a very common sense sort of thing. With a few tools to get them started most parents express amazement at how successful they can be at raising self-directed and fulfilled young people by just using that "good old common sense" and applying their values to their lives. Sounds like you are doing just that!