During the holiday season we talk a lot about Love, Joy, Peace, and Family. We create cards and letters that spout out the wonderful things our kids have done and seen in the last year, dress up in our best clothes and put on smiles.
But then we stop and look around for a second, and the facade we put on starts to crumble. We realize that our picture perfect, clean cut, and adorable children may belong on the naughty list after all. They may be complaining about their responsibilities or be so ready for the holiday that they just don't want to go to school today. They might decide that they want to wear their santa claus pajamas to the store instead of get dressed for public. They might think that since it's the winter break they shouldn't have to clean their rooms or help set the table. In fact, they might be in an "I want WHAT I want, WHEN I want it," kind of mood. And if you're perfectly honest, you may be feeling that way too. (Personally, I want to skip work today, sit around in my pajamas, drink loads of hot cocoa, and watch sappy Christmas movies!) There is nothing wrong with feeling that way sometimes. But the difference between being dysfunctional and being functional is that while you may FEEL that way, you choose to behave responsibly and refrain from acting on it.
So what does this have to do with parenting? Well, recently, I've seen several children and adolescents who are in effect "running the house" by acting inappropriately, and disrespectfully, because they have learned that they can act on their "I want what I want when I want it" mentality. The sad thing is that I've seen a growing number of parents who allow their children to display disrespect, even in public, and now that their children are older, they have trouble controling their behavior. I've been pondering this growing pattern for a while now, and then a video that I've seen cross my Facebook Timeline several times caught my eye. The video features a child, maybe 2 and a half, who is chiding his mother, even using her first name, while she is trying to address an inappropriate action that he had taken earlier. The child talks straight over his mother, insists on his way, and never once even appologizes. Now, every child tries to argue with their parent at one point or another. There is nothing strange about that. But the thing that bothers me is that the parent does not stop this behavior. Instead, she continues to film the child's rant and argues with him, and when the video is posted, the comments are more along the lines of "Oh, how cute" rather than "Wow, that's inappropriate." Misbehavior and disrespect are NEVER cute. Teaching your child when they are young that their behavior will be tolerated creates an adolescent whose actions are more extreme, like refusing to go to school or arguing with their fists instead of their words. Our job as parents is to train our children to RESPECT themselves, RESPECT authority, and take RESPONSIBILITY for themselves. By disciplining our children and teaching them that we love them even when they misbehave, but that their actions still have consequences. We teach them that while it is ok to voice their opinions if neede, they must still behave appropriately and show respect.