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One of my favorite concepts discussed by Dr. Kevin Leman in Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours is the idea of the Super Parent. The Super Parent is the parent who reads all the books. Super Parents want their parents to work. They want to be perfect parents with perfect children. Leman says he finds Christian parents to be more likely to be Super Parents, and honestly when I read about the Super Parent, I can see that many Babywise parents could fall into this problem. Here is Leman’s list of faulty reasoning by a Super Parent (page 89):
- I own my children
- I am judge and jury
- My children can’t fail
- I am boss–what I say goes
I want to touch on a couple of these thoughts.
My Children Can’t Fail
As I was reading this chapter, I saw myself in the “My children can’t fail” category. I don’t want my children to fail an any area. Leman says we should allow our children to fail. “I’m not saying that a child should be a failure by habit or that he should learn to be a loser in life. I am saying that we learn through failure. We learn through making our own decisions, and some of those decisions turn out to be mistakes which lead to failure” (page 93).
We shouldn’t rescue our children from their mistakes. Natural consequences will come. We can try to shield them from the pain of this reality, but at some point in life, it will catch up with them. Natural consequences will meet our children at some point. For me, the difficulty is not in allowing natural consequences to happen once a bad choice has been made. It is in allowing my children to make those decisions in the first place.
I will stand guard and remind my children to be careful, they might get hurt doing XYZ. I remind them to do things they really don’t need reminders for. I don’t allow them to try things for themselves, and I don’t give them the chance to remember things on their own. I am not saying I should be letting my two year old wander out to the busy road and “remember” it isn’t a safe place to be or learn through the natural consequence of getting hit by a car. But when my children are playing with something age appropriate and have been told the potential dangers, I need to let them remember things on their own.
I found myself reminding Brayden to do things like pull his pants up after he went to the bathroom–every single time. At the time, he was not quite four. A child that age does not need to be reminded to pull his pants up. If he didn’t remember for some reason, he could simply take a few steps and then realize his pants were down. I don’t want to create a child who takes no care to remember to do things himself because he has a constant reminder of Mom in his ear telling him every step–down to the pants.
Brayden also feels good about himself when he remembers to do these things on his own. He will ask me to not tell him what to do because he wants to be responsible. He knows what he needs to do and doesn’t want to be told. He wants that feeling of accomplishment that comes from remembering and being responsible. I wasn’t giving him the chance to even forget. So I have worked on it and have tried to do better.
I have a good friend who has a personality similar to mine. Her oldest is now 12, and my friend recently shared some things she should have done differently, in retrospect. One was to not warn her daughter constantly. Another was to not remind her to do things constantly. My friend says she feels like she has taught her daughter to not trust her own judgement and she has taught her she doesn’t need to remember to do things on her own. Mom will remember. Mom will keep track of what test she needs to study for and what worksheet is due in science class. She said her daughter also will become frozen often times because she is unsure of what to do.
I Am Boss–What I Say Goes
This is a common feeling of parents. We want our children to obey because we are the parents and they should obey us! This isn’t really a weakness of mine. I remember growing up and asking my Mom why I couldn’t do something. “Because I said so.” I hated that answer! I wasn’t asking in order to be difficult or to argue; I wanted to know why. I wanted to apply meaning to my world.
My husband would like to have Brayden do what he is told simply because he was told without every questioning why. That is how he was raised. I like to offer reasons. I know when Brayden asks why, it is so he can apply meaning to the reason. Why can’t he climb the apple tree? Because he could fall out and get hurt. He is not yet old enough to be climbing the apple tree. Knowing the reasons for things helps him to be able to judge activities for himself.
Encourage and Enhance Your Child’s Individuality
A final thought of Leman’s that I like from this chapter is that your child is going to become and individual anyway. Do what you can to encourage and enhance it. Your home should be a place you allow your child to make decisions, and then deal with the consequences, whether good or bad. You have no choice but to offer more freedoms to your child as he grows up. “…at the base of the child-parent relationship should be the parent’s desire to train the child, guide him, and set him free to become his own person” (page 106). Of course, as you do this, you need to keep in mind age appropriate freedoms. The fact that you need to allow freedoms as he gets older doesn’t mean that you need to allow all freedoms at the age of three.
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