When did kids get rights?
Okay, maybe they have the “right” to have food, shelter, and clothing provided for them from their parents. And definitely they have they right to be protected from physical and emotional abuse. But do they have the right to privacy, or the right to freedom of speech, or the right to tattoo or pierce or have sex? Okay, so maybe 18 year old independent adults have these rights but since when do rights supersede responsibility? The old adage, “As long as you live under my roof… You WILL do as I say…” seems out dated, but why?
If it is the parent’s responsibility to clothe, and feed, and shelter and protect and even nurture, then isn’t it our right to say NO, to things we don’t agree with or that prevents us from doing OUR job effectively? How can I protect you from abuse, if I can’t tell you how to dress or where you can’t go, or check your email?
Now I know that many of you are thinking, not me… I WILL not kow-tow to any silly expectations. After-all, I am the adult…, I pay the bills… Yet too many parents are afraid to parent, because they are afraid to crush their kids pshyche – do I dare say it – to parent like their parents did… Parenting is not for the weak of heart, much less the weak of spirit. Kids will test and torment you, but you can not give in. You must hold firm to what you believe is right.
Rights without responsibility leads to spoiled kids who run a muck. Our children must learn to respect authority and appreciate their gifts from their parents, for what they are, gifts. I have to feed my kids nutritiously but Prime Rib or Shrimp does not have to be on the menu. Similarly, I need to celebrate my kids achievements to help them build a good sense of self, but I don’t have to buy them the latest greatest game system or sneaker just because they did well at a game or on a test, or worst, as a testimony of my love for them.
Kids don’t have the right to be paid for good grades; that is their responsibility. Kids don’t have the right to drive at 16 or go to a friend’s party; these are all privileges that can be withheld. Kids don’t have the right to yell at their parents or even argue; while kids probably should be allowed to state their concerns, they do NOT have the right to be disrespectful. All parents aren’t equal and all aren’t full of patience or understanding or even say all the right things, BUT all good parents love their kids and true love and great parenting requires that the parents say no and mean no from time to time. If more parents, would guide and protect instead of grant indiscriminate rights and privileges to their to their children, we would find less kids making bad choices and more kids growing up to be just like their folks…
Saying no to a child of any age, be it the toddler, the teenager or even the 22 year old adult child, makes your kids stronger not weaker. It allows them to rely on themselves and it builds character and it helps direct and mold their sense of self. It teaches them that sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you want it to, and that there are consequences for your actions and that parents who say no, do love you… They love you enough and are strong enough to NOT give in to your whims, and this builds a sense of internal safety. “My folks are in charge… When I am out here floundering… my parents will be there to guide me, rather than feed me sugar when I have a tooth ache.”
Don’t be afraid of upsetting your kids. Guiding is our job, even if it is upsetting. If they knew how to survive at birth, then we would have hatched them and left them to go out and see the world on their own. Instead we nurture and take care of them for upwards of 18 years; the longest of any animal. And in the animal kingdom, the first thing that babies learn is that the parents RULE! Don’t be afraid to rule. Your kids may balk, but you will create stronger, wiser, more successful adults.