Hey Papa? Can you hear me now? Hello? Parenting in the classical sense does not really account for effective communication unless we are talking about maintaining control with an iron fist. Growing up in the old days meant that there was little communication but lots of orders. It’s no wonder we all grew up to be these hippy tree huggers and the pendulum has swung so hard that now we are letting a child’s feelings rule the home.
Lee says: In my house, Mami was the boss and woe is the child who bucked that. My Mother worked throughout my childhood. She was the owner and manager of a women’s clothing factory that employed over 80 people. That is a lot. She would leave the house before we ever left for school and would come home at 5:00 everyday and would spend the evening doing paper-work or, if she was lucky, zombie out in front of the TV. She didn’t have time for kiddy bullshit. She was a busy lady.
During the summer, when the hot California sun begged us to come out to spend the day in the pool, my Mother would leave us to our own devices at home. During the day, she would call us to check in and usually be ordering us, albeit telephonically, to get out of the pool. However, we figured a few minutes wouldn’t hurt so we would stay in. Few minutes turned to an hour and before we knew it, Mom was home. We would scramble and slip and slide and run to our bathroom in hopes that Mom did not catch a glimpse of our wet, pruney bodies tearing through the house. Before we knew it, we were in the midst of a Nuremburg trial where we were the Nazi’s presumed guilty. She yelled, she may have spanked and, if we were lucky, we were allowed to shower, dress and help with dinner.
In my day, if my Mom would have come home and sat my sister and I down to explain the unhealthy effects of the California sun on our tender, chlorine treated skin I would have said she had been smoking reefer at the factory. In my day, kids had no opinions and talking back was tantamount to pointing a gun. The kid’s today are being taught very differently. We have taken the information of adult esteem issues and decided to rewrite our own traumatic childhood. We have become flower child parents and any show of discipline is a pale shadow of the authoritarian parents we had.
Now, please understand that I listen to my kids and we have long conversations and hug and they hear I love you every day and all those sweet yum-yums. I didn’t get that but they do. The problem comes when we start running our household like a democracy where everyone gets an equal vote. Listening to your child, 100% of the time, results in giving them a say in the household. That’s an awful lot of pressure on a little person and an awful lot of pain for the parent. The boundaries for these kids get a little warped. There has to be a hierarchy in the family. Since our role as parents is to maintain safety, then we are the upper echelon of the hierarchy.
Paul and I run our home as an oligarchy. We retain all power. As Jeannie (17) gets older, she is being allowed to share in some of the authority specifically over her brothers who are significantly younger than her. Now none of this means we do not listen to our children’s needs. We just believe that listening and respecting and regarding and acknowledging your kids is a slippery slope that can lead you to losing control and then neglecting their safety and letting them grow up too fast and then you rely on them for your care. Parenting is a balancing act and the most you can do is your best, period.
One thing you can do for your kids is teach them how to listen. This would save them so much heart ache, headache and worry. Model good listening skills. Don’t take things personally. Keep your word. Do your best and don’t assume. You know, follow the Four Agreements. Get Toltecy with your kids. I doubt the Toltecs needed parenting advice.
Paul says: Just for your information, I am currently adorned in gold and feathers and sitting on a throne. Yes, that is the way I roll.