- No one knows your child as well as you ( the mother or father) do. Is that true?
- No one is as likely to know your child as well as you. Is this statement true?
- No one should know your child as well as you. Is this true?
- You strive to know your children as best you can. Is this true?
These are questions to ask yourself as a parent. Whatever your answers are, many of you are wrong and don’t realize it. There can be many things you don't know about your kids and there may be people that are aware of things about them that you may never know. The hope is that you, at least, strive to know your children as best you can. If not, you can be hurting their development as you do things you assume are helping them. Similarly, you may be hurting their development if you ignore their tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses.
For instance, pushing a child into playing sports has the possibility of opening their eyes to competition, sportsmanship, working with others, and keeping in good physical shape. This would be great for most kids. For some children, however, being pushed into a sport contributes to feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, and a lack of self-confidence. It’s not that these children should not try sports, but knowing their desires and fears in advance would, at a minimum, determine just how much give and take there should be in forcing the issue.
Not pushing can also be a mistake. I have a somewhat distant relative, a millennial, who likely has a genius IQ. This was revealed in testing and the grades he received with little effort in school. But the young man makes a sloth look like the energizer bunny. His life is inactivity and video games. His father is not involved in his life at all and his mother is mildly interested in pushing him to succeed. No one really knew him as a child. Sure, they may have known he was smart and lazy, but anyone could have seen that. What they didn’t know was what might motivate him in a positive direction.
If Joey likes video games, don’t let him indulge in them until you find a way to take advantage of that interest. “Join the debate team, Joey. If you do, we will allow a certain amount of time on video games”. This could be an simple approach to ‘give and take’. “And Joey, if you win a debate, we may allow even more time on video games.” Your goal is not to let him build up rewards of video game time, but to distract him, hoping new challenges may awaken within him.
There is nothing wrong with rewarding good behavior in a sincere way, but it is damaging to not have negative consequences for bad behavior. But to do either means you have to know your child. Your rewards must be something they value and your consequences must be something they wish to avoid. Do you really know what those ‘rewards or consequences’, are?
Here’s another twist. Sometimes you need to stay out of their way. If you are lucky enough to have a kid that knows what he or she wants in life, (assuming it’s not world domination or a reality show, etc.), then let them follow their passion. It could be dance, science, horses, baseball, poetry -- i.e. anything of value to them and/or society. If you tell them there’s no future in poetry, then you’re likely thinking in monetary terms, not in terms of their happiness. You can give an opinion anytime but try to give them the benefit of doubt.
So it is that parents need to genuinely know their children in order to help them be successful. With some children, we need to intercede, assist, or push. With others, we need to let them fly. With all, we need to praise and encourage them when they seem to be on a good path.
To what purpose?
I like the NLT translation of Matthew 25:29, quoting Jesus.
“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”
Michael Byron Smith