It IS My Kid's Fault!
By Mary Simmons, M.A.
Author of Discipline Me Right, with Bert Simmons, M. Ed.
A few Teen Commandments from Discipline Me Right: "Discipline your child and show responsibility." "Thou shall give us consequences for our negligent or irresponsible behavior." "Hold me responsible for my actions."
We live in an enabling age.
That is not a good thing. Many parents make it easy for kids to side-step their responsibilities, but, surprisingly, that is not what kids want. It feels good to take responsibility for one’s actions, good or bad. Something inherent in human nature wants what is good and right. As I note in my book,
kids want to be good
, which means taking responsibility for their failures and negative actions.
A mother allows her teenaged son to turn off his snooze alarm several times until he has only 15 minutes until the first bell at school. She finally cajoles him into a quick shower, and as she is driving him to school she phones the attendance office to say it is her fault her son will be late, and he will need a pass when he arrives. He walks into 1st period with no consequences and believes it is all right to inconvenience his mother and the school staff, and to disrupt 1st period, all because he wants to sleep in.
Enabling parenting: What does it look like?
Enabling parents make excuses for their children's academic failure and bad behavior. They accept marginal and failing grades without penalty. They ignore sloppy work, tardiness, and cheating. Sometimes they condone or encourage cheating. (Some even do their children's homework for them!) Enabling parents say their child failed, or cheated, or punched another kid in the hallway because he was having "family problems." They take the blame for their kid. The result is kids who can't see past their personal circumstances, blame others for their problems, and avoid challenges because they aren't familiar with the satisfaction of succeeding on their merits. Parents are enablers for a few reasons.
They feel guilty.
Stop feeling guilty.
Parents feel guilty for being hostile and angry, for divorce, for drinking too much -- any number of things. Parents often try to make up for something painful that happened earlier in their child's life. You cannot make your child's life perfect. You have to forgive yourself for not being perfect.
Your child is here on earth to learn; don't hinder that process
. Clean up your act, tell the truth, hold your child accountable, and encourage him or her to do better. Show your child you believe he or she can accomplish something.
They don't respect themselves.
Respect yourself and don't allow disrespect
. Enabling parents show appalling signs of disrespect toward themselves. They allow themselves to be manipulated by their children and political correctness ("everybody's equal and never at fault"), and they allow themselves to be deluded about what is true and false when it comes to their children's deeds. As a parent you must respect yourself. That means you
do not allow any disrespect toward yourself
. It does not mean that you are arrogant, conceited, or concerned about always being right with your child. It does means that you know you are basically a good person and deserve to be treated well.
Stop being afraid
. Your child isn't going to stop loving you. Loving you is hard-wired into their system. In fact, they will love and respect you more if you are a person of integrity and hold them accountable for their actions. That means dishing out consequences for destructive and disrespectful behavior. It means taking away privileges if their grades are low. If you're afraid of conflict, then you'll need to think ahead and formulate a plan, anticipate the conflict and know what you'll do if the argument escalates.
Not being afraid means taking charge and doing what you said you will do if your child misbehaves
Assertive, in-charge, self-respecting parents live by these words:
I cannot allow you to do anything that is not in your best interest - or mine.
is a teacher, parent, and author. Her father,
, is an educational consultant in the area of school discipline. Together, with the insights of Mary's teenaged students, they have put together a powerful, comprehensive guide to instilling and reinforcing positive, respectful behavior in children.
Discipline Me Right
is available through Amazon.com and your local bookstore. For more parenting tips and information about the book, visit
. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.