essay

Teaching Children

This started with the book 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson. One of his rules is, “Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.” He goes on to say that we should discipline our children and teach them social norms. He says:

Because children, like other human beings, are not only good, they cannot simply be left to their own devices, untouched by society, and bloom into perfection.

And:

A child will have many friends, but only two parents—if that—and parents are more, not less, than friends.

Parents need to be parents and help their kids, and kids like limits. They like when their parents set those limits. I have noticed, since reading that book, that after I calmly discipline my daughter, instructing her to do the right thing, there is an increase of love with each other. She loves me more afterwards, not less. It may make her angry for a moment, but she feels safer knowing that I’m watching out for her and teaching her.

This sentiment is echoed The Collapse of Parenting by Leonard Sax. He tells parents to get their kids off screens, have consistent discipline, and teach respect and self-control to my kids.

Command. Don’t ask. Don’t negotiate. Modern American parents are forever rationalizing their decisions to their children. There are many problems with that approach. The mere fact that the parent feels compelled to negotiate already undermines the authority of the parent. When you lay down a rule, and your children ask why, answer, “Because Mommy (or Daddy) says so.

I need to be both supportive and authoritative. Sometimes it’s hard to set those limits and follow through. It’s easy to let kids be on screens for hours at a time. It’s easy to do all the work and not have them help with the chores. It’s easy to say they can do what they want.

But it’s not good for the kids. I’ve been trying to be better: they have to sit down and listen sometimes. We put away the TV for five days a week. We try to do daily chores and dish jobs (still a work in progress). I try not to tolerate it when they back talk and remind them to be respectful.

Growing up, we had a book that was called What to Do When Your Mom or Dad Says “Clean Your Room!” I loved that book growing up because it tells you exactly how to clean your room, and I still use some of this methods to this day. I was searching on the internet to get a copy, and I found that there was a whole series called The Survival Series for Kids, written in the early 1980s.

So I ordered a set of 17 books. When they came, I looked through all of them. Parenting has changed a lot.

We don’t teach manners anymore, partly because adults don’t always have manners either. Do you know what you should do when someone stops by your house? Well, first, no one is going to stop by your house without texting you first. But if they do, do you remember to invite them in, take their coat, and ask if they would like to sit down?

Do you ever say, “It’s nice to meet you?” Do you instruct your kids to call adults by respectful names, like Mrs. and Mr.? Do you have regular expectations for your kids, like the chores they need to do and having them help clean up and cook? Do you do things for your kids that they could do for themselves? Do you tell your kids you can’t afford it? Do your kids know how to hold a conversation with a stranger? Do you kids know when to say thank you? Do your kids know how to behave in public, like holding still and not talking out of turn? Do you tell your kids to put away screens when they talk to other people? Do you do that?

It made me realize that we forget to teach our kids how to behave. We pretend kids are adults and we treat them that way, which leads to a lot of disrespect and even confusion.

So I’m working on it. I want to be a little old-fashioned in some ways.

One thought on “Teaching Children

  1. I like this post. Sometimes it is overwhelming about how many things we need to teach children, but I like the maxim your started with that you don’t let your children do anything that annoys you. I wouldn’t mind looking through some of those books.

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