It's easier than ever to spoil children. I've seen toddlers with their own iPhones. Parents tell me it's great because the kid can watch movies or play games on it to entertain them.
We live in a world where we can have a relationship with someone we've never met on the other side of the world while we are starved for love, connection, and intimacy right in the same room with our loved ones.
There is excess wherever we look, and in a world where most parents have to work outside the home, it's really understandable that we want to give our kids things that make them happy and entertain them. We even give our children leeway with manners, no longer teaching them basic rules of respect.
The problem I see most often is that we want our kids to like us. We want to be their friend. We want to be cool. And as such, our credibility goes right out the window.
Children want boundaries. They need them. They may not like them outwardly, but inwardly, the world only makes sense to them when they know how to predict cause and effect. Kids long for the safety of limits. They love consistency.
What children need from their parents is for them to be parents. Parents are the moral guides for a child. Parents are a child's first experience of God, love, and connection. We are where they learn how to communicate and what the role of love is in the world.
When a family is experiencing a time of transition - a birth, a death, a divorce, a move - these are the times when they need the strongest boundaries, the most consistency, and the greatest loving connection.
Fill their time with you. Teach them to think and to reason. Teach them that life gives back in direct relationship to what is put in. Model the behavior you want them to repeat, and set the bar high.
Kids will most often do exactly as you expect. What you expect is up to you.
Spoiled kids hate their parents. Even worse, they hate themselves. They don't know how not to, because they don't know how to be in control of themselves. They don't know how not to manipulate or how to not be entitled.
Spoiling children sets them up for a lifetime of misery in learning that the world beyond Mom & Dad's house doesn't work the same way.
Respect your children, and they will respect you, even if they don't always like you. You are a big deal in their lives.
Parent first, friendly relationship second.
You will always need to be a parent first, when they need it. That is a lifetime commitment. You never have the luxury of being just a friend.
Be someone your kid respects, from deep down in their heart, and you will find yourself with the relationships you've always wanted with them.
Where do your kids learn how to behave? Have you ever thought about that? Babies and children absorb everything that is happening around them. They don't have any choice at that age but to adopt the beliefs and values and behaviors of those closest to them, and the communities around them.
Watch a group of kids at a playground and you will see them acting like an amalgamation of their parents and caregivers. Those patterns, if not changed in the parents and caregivers, will only deepen in the children as time goes on. This, as you can imagine, can be both wonderful and horrifying.
A dear friend recently spent time with me and my daughters. She hadn't seen my girls in several years. As she watched us interact with other people in the room, she started giggling and said she was amazed to see how much alike our mannerisms and speech patterns were.
Yep, they are mini-me, at least in part.
Here is the most shocking wake-up call I can give to parents:
Every thought you think, whether you are conscious of the thought, or if it is a tape playing in your subconscious, creates a spark of light in your brain. This spark of light travels through a neural network, and when it reaches the end of the neuron, the synapses fire out a squirt of chemicals that carry the message of the thought through the physical body via the nervous system at speeds up to 500 feet per second (that's about 340 miles per hour).
Think about all the negative thoughts you have about yourself in a day, and just take that in. I'll wait...
Okay, now think about ALL the negative thoughts you have in a day- negative self-talk, judgements about self and others, complaining, griping, pissing and moaning, gossiping- and think about the onslaught of chemical messages being unleashed in your body.
No wonder we are so addicted to our behaviors! Luckily it works the same for our positive thoughts and positive behaviors. That's why it feels so good to feel so good.
Here's where it gets juicy for parents: Every thought you thunk from the moment of your child's conception bathed that growing physiology in the chemical messengers of your thoughts.
Think that influence ended at birth? Think again. One of the many types of neurons in our brains is called "mirror neurons", or "empathy neurons". These amazing cells transmit feelings and thoughts from person to person. This is why it's so easy to cry when we see someone else crying with great emotion. This is why we cry at movies, even though we know it's pretend. This is why we crave the ice cream someone else is eating. This is why someone else's crappy mood can seem to rub off on us- or why their good mood can. In short, mirror neurons are cells that read minds.
In every way, we influence our children to be like us by how we behave and how we think.
It's about survival. If the behavior of our caretakers has worked to keep them alive, then it will likely work for the offspring too.
But hey, this is great news! If you want your children to change, all you have to do is change yourself,and allow mirror neurons and your strong example to do the rest.
Fixing our children begins with fixing ourselves. Fixing ourselves begins with acknowledging that we have something we want to change. To get there, we must accept ourselves where we are.
Don't judge yourself.
Love yourself right where you are, then make conscious choices. Be proud of your mini-me, and love the parts of them that frustrate you the most, because most likely, those are the parts that came from you.
With applied consciousness, we can be more and more the person we want to be, and leave a legacy that really makes us proud.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
1806 Swift Street
North Kansas City, MO 64116