I am a parent, a father to twins, a boy and girl. It is a blessing upon blessings to receive love from two little people who carry part of me in them. When I am with them, I stare at them and daydream. Time stands still as their laughter fills my ears. These are moments, lessons learned as a parent, I cherish above all others because it is the ultimate selfless act caring for someone who depends on me for every basic need required to survive.
A parent or guardian (mom, dad, grandma or grandpa) is a child’s role model, their hero. Parents are everything to a child (in their early years), emulating likes, dislikes and personality. Probably the greatest lessons learned as a parent is not only the good a child inherits from his or her parent or guardian, but the not so good, the behaviors many of us were scolded for.
Same Household, Different Outcome
Sibling rivalry, fighting (playful and real), bickering, the list of sibling interaction is short or long depending on the relationship built with one another. Nonetheless, children are born to be who they will be. Yes, environment plays a role in shaping a child but ever wonder how two children from the same household, parents, educational opportunities, love, respect, mentorship and family atmosphere, can head in different directions? How is that possible?
The simple, down and dirty response without delving into geneticism is take a broth-filled pot with vegetables, meat and spices. Simmer it over the stove until cooked to perfection. Grab two bowls and a ladle, walk over to the simmering pot, remove the lid and scoop a serving of the delicious stew into the first bowl. Repeat for the second bowl. Once finished, place both bowls on the table and look at the contents. Without question, each bowl will be different. This explains why children born from the same mother and father differ, the DNA passed on varies.
Finding the Right Discipline Model
Growing up an 80’s baby, discipline was part of the culture. If I spoke to my parents or an adult the way my children do today, my mouth and a bar of Zest soap would be one. No way. No how, my dad or mom would allow disrespectful talk come out of my mouth.
My twins are spoiled. They demand, not ask. I am constantly correcting their speech, teaching them manners. Unfortunately, time with my children is limited, so it is a vicious cycle of teaching only to re-teach them the next time they are with me.
Contrary to societal interpretation, discipline is not bad, it takes on many forms and those brave (yes parents need to be brave in today’s times) enough to discipline his or her child, do so out of love. It is not easy or fun spanking your child. It is not easy or fun removing their toys you paid a 1/4 of your paycheck for. There is no joy in hearing your child cry, scream, kick or make a scene in public. Agian, all done out of love.
The Welfare and Institutions Code regarding parental discipline differs state to state but who wants to leave his or her fate in the hands of the justice system if your child should say to their teacher or another adult, “My daddy spanks me”? Child abuse and discipline are very different. I know, I was recipient of both. Has society gone too far labeling parental discipline abuse? If discipline was abuse, many generation X adults would be wrought with problems. Again, all have problems but respect, manners, chivalry, generosity, hard work, loyalty…CHARACTERistics are far removed from society today.
Identifying an effective disciplinary model is a significant lessons learned as a parent for me. Time out works for my son, not for my daughter. My daughter is too smart. She accepts her time, several minutes later, walks away as if nothing happened. My son, pounds on the door, screaming bloody murder. It works on occasion for him. The surefire method is to remove their toys and activities.
I think back to growing up and the discipline model my parents used, if “time out” was the preferred disciplinary model, I am not sure I would be the man I am today. In some ways the abuse I experienced growing up strengthened my resolve, it developed and shaped my attitude today. The generation at hand is missing drive, desire and work ethic, characteristics needed to overcome adversity. Is that a result of no discipline?
Many of the youth today lack the ability to critically think in situations or social interactions. They are part of the technology era, where artificial intelligence replaces brain activity. Gluttony, immediacy and expectancy are traits many of the youth carry with them today. I can go on about the changing tides of generational thinking and the lack of discipline many have. Frankly, society forced discipline out of the hands of parents.
Follow Through on Demands Good or Bad
Children are smart, resilient and intelligent. They are computer chips, downloading information consciously and subconsciously. They remember all that benefits their cause, manipulating the situation for their own pleasure.
If I tell my children I will reward them for good behavior, it is imperative I follow through. Likewise, if I tell my children they will receive timeout or their toys removed for misbehaving, it is imperative I fall through. Reinforcing their behavior one way or the other is my futile attempt at setting them on the right track, but if they are allowed to run the roost at their mother’s home, my hands are tied.
My daughter loves affection, she lives for it. My son, wrap arms around him a few seconds and he is squirming away. He is selective when he wants affection, still I kiss and hug him.
I kiss my children any chance I get. I run my fingers through their hair, playfully pull their ears and run my hand down their back, massaging it. I tell them ,”I love you” several times a day, and ask them if they love me. I ask, “How much do you love daddy, this big (opening my arms wide), or this small (gaping my index and middle finger).”
My children crave affection from their mother and I. They want to know they are loved beyond its meaning. They crave attention. They want my eyes on anything they do and accomplish. Sometimes they say things they do not mean, changing emotional paths on a whim. I found they do not what they say but repeat what others may say around them.
It is shock hearing your child tell you, “No. Daddy doesn’t love me. Only mommy loves me.” As unknown those words are to them, they cut deep. I know. My son said those exact words to me. Seconds after he said it, my heart shattered. My eyes blurred, breath left me. I was speechless. He did not know what he said but heard it from someone else possibly. Thankfully, a few hours later, as I drove him to his grandmother’s house he shouted out of the blue from his car seat, “I love you daddy”.
Children repeat what they hear. As toddlers, they do not know the meaning, only the expression brought upon saying such words. As parents, loving our children unconditionally is loving them to no end, beyond the hurt they administer knowingly or unknowingly.
As a loving parent, teaching and repeating do’s and don’ts, are tools to success. In time, children adapt to parenting styles and environments, good or bad. Therefore, giving my children a good example of a productive human being, shaping their minds to conquer adversity and expressing love in good and bad times, are lessons learned as a parent I aim to my master.
In closing, children are blank sheets of paper where parents and environmental interactions represent the ink filling in the paper. Fear is not of them but learned. Limitations are not of them but learned. Faith and belief are not of them but learned. As wide as the skies, so is a child’s ability.
Guidance. Love. Attention. That is what children need.