Many women believe that an important part of their femininity is the ability to be a good mother. After all, who does not dream of their children being more successful, popular and happy than they are themselves? Who does not want their son or daughter to achieve what we did not?
Unfortunately, the Internet is full of articles referring to the Japanese and quasi-scientific theories, where mothers are indoctrinated with the idea that a happy childhood means giving the child all the material things, as well as all the rights and freedoms that we lacked in our childhood. At the same time, they require parents to be socially successful, earn a lot of money and spend a lot of time on social media. Naturally, given such priorities, there is no time to talk to the child and no purchases can compensate lack of attention.
Having read the overabundance of conflicting recommendations, most often the parents set up one of the three wrong ways to raise a family.
MISTAKE ONE: PERMISSIVENESS
Will the Japanese method of upbringing suit your child? If we look carefully, we’ll notice that under the Japanese system, children are spoiled until they turn six. Afterwards, they are subject to the strictest discipline; in fact, they are trained as future obedient corporate employees. It is customary in Japan to work in the same place of employment all your life until you retire, so changing a job is not even an issue.
Do we want our child to grow up into an obedient puppet with no right to choose whatsoever? Of course, not. In Japan, indulging a child before six turns into the strictest training system after six. This is definitely not our way of thinking and not our case.
Is it good to shower a child with material things or experiences or anything else, trying to give as much as possible or striving to compensate for lack of attention in order to comply with the mythical public opinion about the right upbringing?
A spoiled, ill-raised child cannot behave properly in society, does not realize their as-yet-insignificance and does not see that there are no objective reasons for anyone, especially for strange adults, to defer to their opinion. Their inflated self-esteem and unpleasant behavior are the cause of aggression against them on the part of other children and teachers. In adult life, such a spoiled, infantile, egocentric person cannot achieve success, because nobody cares about their crankiness or whims and there are no real reasons to respect them.
It is the parents’ task to make sure that their grown-up child successfully adapts to society, builds a career or a business, has a happy family and becomes a respectable member of society. However, if from early on a child does not know how to keep a logical social hierarchy where parents are always more significant and respected than children, where an opinion of a person who earns money weighs more than that of a dependent; and if the parents mix up the roles and act as servitors to the child, the child loses track and turns into an ill-bred monster.
We respect people for their actual social achievements and influence, but the one who stays a spoiled child, who hysterically demands yet another toy to be bought for them, will never have any significant achievements. If the parents do everything for the child and give them what they want at first squeak, the child does not learn to set goals, to plan the way to achieve them and to act systematically, implementing the plan.
Without such a skill, you get deeply unhappy infantile adults who blame everyone around them for everything that goes wrong. Instead of acting to achieve the desired results, they constantly demand, whine, complain and accuse their parents who didn’t give them enough, didn’t leave them a fortune and didn’t send them to Harvard. They will never see their own contribution to the fact that they have not achieved anything.
In a family with an upside-down hierarchy the child feels unprotected because they are the youngest and have no personal strength yet, but if mother and father or nannies and aunts run in circles around them, they think that they are the stronger party. They realize that the adults are even weaker than the child and their worry and feeling of uncertainty grow; they begin to feel that no one can protect him.
Then the child goes out into the world and has massive problems in dealing with people, after all, no stranger would dream of giving in to them. Yet, they have no experience of resolving conflicts constructively.
MISTAKE TWO: LAXNESS
If we talk about the second type of family, where we see laxness, indifference and neglect, we see a child who is in the parents’ way. They feel unloved, unnecessary and uninteresting. In despair, the child will do anything outrageous, even to getting involved with a criminal gang, all for the sake of attracting mom’s and dad’s attention and actually feeling that they are important and loved.
If such a child is lucky, they may get into a good sports club with an excellent coach or do something interesting with an enthusiastic and talented teacher; it may well be that they will excel at it; they will do their best, hoping that mom will finally notice and love them. The main problem of children in such families is a feeling that they don’t deserve love since the parents reject them to such an extent. As a rule, the problem of feeling unnecessary and insignificant can only be solved in adulthood after numerous visits to a psychologist.
MISTAKE THREE: EXCESSIVE DEMANDS
The third type of wrong families involves attempts at excessive control of the children and demands for their achievements. Such parents do not want to see the real children with their real problems, but want to shape them into an ideal, whether in studies, sport, dancing, music or anything else. They want to raise a convenient child that they can be proud of and achieve their ambitions at the child’s expense.
Most often such relationships are due to the parents’ own unrealized potential. If their actual mediocre abilities or lack of diligence did not allow them to attain a higher goal, the parents will take it out on the child, trying to make them achieve what mom or dad couldn’t, by demanding and controlling.
In families where parents are too strict and demand and control too much, the child, as a rule, turns either into a broken-spirited honors student if he is weaker, or into a rebel constantly fighting against the parents’ pressure.
It is not good for the child to live in such an environment because the child feels that, being just a regular person, they are not loved as they are and the parents are trying to make an ideal out of them that is not even close to any ordinary person. Such feeling of lovelessness also leads to adult problems in relationships both with loved ones and spouses, as well as with children. Such children grow into unhappy and not very successful adults. Meanwhile, the program of harshness and suppression is passed on, in turn, to their children.
SO WHAT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO?
What should mom do, so as to stop navigating among these three extremes, but rise up above the triangle of pedagogical disaster and arrive at the right summit? She needs to realize that it is appropriate for a family to have a strict hierarchy. After all, if she earns money and the child is a dependent, the relationship is very similar to the “boss – employee” one, where with all due respect from the boss to the employee, the latter still needs to fulfill his duties in order to receive a paycheck. Naturally, we will not fire the child, but this is the right metaphor for your relationship.
Mom has the full right to request that the child keep the rules of the family, help around the house, let her rest after work and not interfere when she does housework. You cannot expect a two-year-old tot to help you much or to be quiet, but a school child can do all that really well if they are not spoiled with permissiveness and discourtesy.
In good families, there is always a hierarchy, where the child can always come to an agreement with an adult provided the adult’s interests are respected. A child can offer mutually beneficial terms to get something they want. Thus, the child will learn to achieve goals and conduct negotiations; will try to manipulate, using parents as sparring partners. Later on these negotiation skills will be very useful in their career or business.
That is why you should not rush to make thoughtless purchases at the first “I want,” but discuss how the child can save money, ask grandparents or other relatives for money instead of birthday gifts, or maybe even earn some money.
My children, for example, buy the things they want with their saved-up allowance, as well as with earned money or money they receive as gifts. When I want them to buy something like an electronic device, I suggest that we share the cost fifty-fifty. Yet, if they want something that I do not think they need or will be useful to them, they pay for such large purchases on their own.
That is why my children take really good care of their belongings, remembering how difficult it was to get them in the first place. What we get by overcoming difficulties is always more valuable and significant; it also raises the child’s self-esteem.
Thus, you train the child’s ability to set and reach goals, teach them strategies for a successful life, where they can be a magician in their own right and grant wishes. This way, you son or daughter feel themselves stronger and more grown-up and are proud that they can attain significant achievements.
When using this approach to child-rearing, mom enjoys living with the child, who is considerate and respectful and the child is more comfortable when they are protected and when they realize that mom loves and values them and will always help, explain or advise them. She will not make the child weaker by thoughtlessly bowing to every whim, but will suggest thinking of something that can be done to achieve what is desired, setting reasonable boundaries, of course.
Your model of an ideal family should be based not on sacrifice, but on your happiness and comfort. It is important to give the child freedom of choice when picking clubs or extracurricular activities; you can suggest various options and get back to your own business. A school child should not encumber you; on the contrary, they can help you and feel important in doing so. This is the only way to raise a successful and happy adult.