Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Observations on Parenting... from someone who isn't one.

As I'm watching some news about the school shooting in Ohio yesterday, I have to say that I think a lot of the fault in this situation falls under lack of parenting... (17 year old shooter lived with his grandparents/parents had been arrested) lack of example, lack of lessons in personal responsibility. I have a few thoughts to share on these things...

I grew up in a house of guns and I don't know that they were ever held behind lock and key. I learned how to shoot a shot gun when I was a kid, but more importantly I learned from my daddy that you only shoot to protect yourself, provide food for your family, or practice your shot. (...and if you HAVE to shoot to protect yourself {meaning that someone is coming to attach you or your property}, you shoot to kill.)

I know I'm not a parent... but I work with students every day. I love my job and working with college students, but I have seen a consistent decline in certain areas of development that cause me to be concerned for their own personal development. I consistently observe students who do not want to take responsibility for their actions, who do not honor the contracts they sign, who are scared of failure to the point that they forget to use common sense, are so used to everyone on the team getting a trophy that they do not accept "No" or a differing opinion for an answer, and who cannot communicate verbally to their peers about their concerns.

I don't write these observations to be critical of any students in particular, for these observations are from different groups of young people that I have observed personally and professionally. But I write these, and reflect on this sad situation in Ohio with a challenge for those of you who are parents, and are willing to listen to someone who may not have a child, but works with a lot of them...

My challenge for you who are parents, please teach your children personal responsibility. By the time they get to high school and college, let them handle their own responsibilities with commitments, regulations, etc. Let them (at least) attempt to fight their own battles before you step in. Teach them to respect authority, because if they don't respect your authority, they will never respect anyone elses. Don't be their best friends... be their parents, until they are adults and have proved themselves to be mature enough to be someone you would choose as a friend. Let them fail. I don't know that I can stress this one enough. It is not reality for everyone to be a winner. Logically, if someone wins then someone has to lose. However this is where one of the most important parts of parenting (or mentoring for those of us without kids) comes in to play. If they don't win, don't treat them as or allow them to feel as if they are a loser. Ultimately if they make a mistake or  fail at something, as long as they take responsiblity and learn from it... then that mistake or loss is NOT a failure, but a lesson.

I can only imagine that you want every day of your kid's life to be a successful one. But some times in life we have to have those days that aren't so great... because they make us appreciate the good ones that much more. I'm sure that as a parent you want to walk every step of their lives with them, but eventually that isn't going to be an option, so it seems that it would best to not only practice seperating yourself from some of that decision making and at the same time you are equipping your child to mature and develope into an adult who can take responsibility for and make decisions for themselves. Independence is not a bad word, as long as your kid knows who they can depend on when/ if they need someone.

The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 that you should, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." This training is not limited to behavior... but also includes responsiblity, integrity, confidence, and the use of common sense. It is training that I value, and use every day... and thanks to my mom and dad, who I did and have grown to call my friends in my more mature years, I have been equipped to live life independently and not fear failure, but recognize those challenges as lessons rather than losses.

Love y'all,

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