Times have changed in lots of ways, but I ask how has parenting changed in the last 30-40 years? I am writing this based on a lunch conversation I had today with two of my co-workers. We were eating and one lady remarked that she has a 9-year old daughter that she cannot get to do anything she is supposed to do like clean her room, do chores, put away her laundry, etc. I sat there stunned because I do not understand the concept of a 9-year old choosing to not do chores against what a parent says. Aren’t they 9? They can barely ride in the car without a booster seat and yet they make decisions about what they will do??? The last time I checked a child was a child and an adult was an adult. How does a 9-year old get to decide what they will and will not do against a parent’s direction? I am not saying my children are 100% obedient, but I can tell you that it is not optional to do as we say without a consequence.
Lauren is 5 and she already is expected to make up her bed every morning, keep her room clean, and put up her laundry once it has been cleaned and folded. I refuse to do the things she can do for herself. Those are simple items she can do and I believe it is a small beginning of teaching responsibility. As I reminisce about my childhood, there were very few choices I had growing up. Basically, Mom’s choices were my choices with no variation. I was always clear that she was the parent and I was the child. All my crazy disobedient acts, talk backs, or defiance were one-timers! Meaning, I may have done it once but after the discipline I received I dared not do that same thing again. My mom had her parental expectations so together that a “look” would get my immediate attention!
Today, in 2008, a look is either not used or not effective. It seems that some children have way more options than we ever did. This same lady also remarked that she was so glad to be able to have a child that she finds herself letting her daughter have her way and go easy on her. Hence, the 9-year old who chooses to NOT clean her room or do her chores.
Marcus and I did a parenting class with a few other couples a few years ago called “Effective Parenting in a Defective World” by Chip Ingram. (Located at www.walkthru.org) It was awesome, from a Christian perspective and I would highly recommend for a small group study. In his material, he talks about the role of a parent and how we are to be a parent now in their years at home and then we can be their friend later. So many parents today want to have a friendship with their 5 year old and they end up having an unruly 15-year old! I sometimes think I am too hard on Lauren and always seek for balance. Yet, I always remind myself that I am not her buddy, but her mommy who loves her enough to discipline her.