Many things have changed in the last few decades in the way we parent our children. Some of these changes are great, however, some are harmful. Perhaps the most detrimental of these is the confusion of many parents between making their children happy and doing what is best for their children.
In today’s world, we are seeing more depression, suicide, addiction, and violence among young people than ever before. While this can be blamed on a number of reasons, one contributing factor sticks out to me. Parents are seeking too hard to make their children happy, resulting in the opposite effect of depression.
Take for example the following observations:
- Children are given practically everything they want, materially speaking. While this will give short-term happiness, it leads to disappointment. When we give children everything they want, we are depriving them of having the opportunity to work for their possessions. There is a great deal of pleasure and feeling of satisfaction when we work with a goal in mind. There is a sense of accomplishment when we reach that goal. This is an important part of becoming a mature adult.
- Parents are failing to set boundaries. Too often children are allowed to make their own rules. Many children expect to do everything the other children are doing, whether it is good for them or not. Curfews, boy-girl sleepovers, unlimited use of technology devices, and respect for others, especially parents are just some of the decisions being transferred from parents to children. One reason for this, occurs when parents find it easier to give-in than to stand their ground. Another reason is perhaps the most frequent; and that is because other parents are allowing the behavior. When children are not given boundaries, they feel more insecure and less confident. Imagine a puppy playing in the yard. Responsible owners set limits. If the puppy goes out of the yard, the owner brings the puppy back. This is the safe place, this is home. But if the puppy is allowed to explore farther and farther away from the yard, it will soon get lost, and have a difficult time finding its way home. Now, if the puppy sees another dog, or animal, it will most likely run toward it because it wants to be with the other animal. Again, this is not good for the puppy, there could be danger of larger dogs, or a highway, or even predators. What the puppy wants and what is good for the puppy are different things. This is the same for children. They are too young to know what is best for them. It is the job of parents to guide them and lead in the right direction, even if they rebel. Children, like the puppy feel secure knowing this is my place, this is where I belong, this is where I am safe. Each step outside of the boundary is the uncertainty of where they belong.
- Parents want to be their child’s friend. While it is important to have a good relationship with our children, it is vital that we do not minimize our role as parents. Children need us to be the adult, to be the authority, and to have the strength to say “NO”. Their friends will encourage them on a path that may not be the best for them. It is the job of parents to keep children on the path to becoming a responsible, loving, mature adult. Saying “no” is a way of saying I LOVE YOU.
- Parents follow the lead of the group. Marketing campaigns, media, and peer pressure have created an emotional appeal to parents. These groups influence parents by making parents feel they are hurting their children by not using their products. Parents are influenced by peer pressure, just as children are. Having others doing something that you are not doing begins to wear the parent down. Eventually, parents begin to question their own judgement. Stay strong, don’t allow others to dedicate your decisions for your children.
There are many scriptures in the Bible that point out we should not be worried about this world, or the value system of this world. Our hearts should be set on heaven and serving God.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world– the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions — is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever. I John 2:15-17