We’ve all been there. You hear an annoying kid screaming at the top of his lungs, crying and complaining about not getting something or being mistreated by whoever. Or, you see that one kid that just doesn’t listen and she’s breaking stuff that doesn’t belong to her. Sometimes the parents will do the right thing and intervene, correcting the behavior and apologizing for the infraction. Other times, you have parents that seem to just not care about what their child does, as they allow their children to run feral.
Parenting techniques are not universal. Unique experiences and circumstances will temper each individual’s approach to guiding their children in life, and this approach may be in stark contrast to the plans that you have laid out for your kids. Just like everyday life, you will encounter those whose ideologies differ from yours, and it’s up to you to understand the differences and parallels, and prepare your children to interact (or not).
A lot of what influences a parent’s technique is derived from the manner in which they were raised. Parenting styles may be a direct copy or in direct contrast, depending on the childhood experiences of the parent. I was raised in a broken household where I was the product of my mother’s first marriage and my brother was born of both parents. There was a distinct derision of responsibilities and rules, and I often found myself being treated with contempt by my stepfather, while my brother was allowed to do as he pleased with no repercussions or responsibilities.
This has always driven me to ensure parity and fairness would be paramount in my parenting approach, as I did not want my experiences for any of my children. We strive to instill appropriate discipline in our kids, but we do so in fairness and with compassion and empathy. They should have a firm understanding of right from wrong, and we owe it to them to teach it in a humane and succinct approach.
Know the Situation
Children are immensely influenced by their family situations. Socioeconomic status plays an enormous role in childhood development, although it may not be the deciding factor in how they turn out as adults. We’ve all heard the stories of those faced with incredibly adverse situations in their youth that ended up as a success and, conversely, those who were raised in a good home and went rogue. Ultimately, the fate of the child will depend on their fortitude and will to succeed.
I like to think of myself as an example of someone who could have turned out a lot worse than they did. Raised in poverty, I never knew my biological father, and my mother got re-married to an abusive, jobless alcoholic when I was about three years old. These circumstances had the potential to be a powder keg of bad decisions, but somehow I managed to turn out relatively normal (by my standards, anyway). I did have some positive influences in my life, and my personality gravitated to them instead of falling into the trap of constant negativity.
The most pivotal point to remember in dealing with another’s child is fully understanding what their situation entails, and how it differs from your circumstances. With the ever-increasing prevalence of broken homes and part-time parenting, some kids may never have a chance to experience normalcy and respect. Their interaction with you and your children might just be the most normal thing they experience for that day. Their interactions with well-adjusted families offer them a reprieve from the chaos, and allow them insight into what is possible when their situation seems hopeless.
The Influence of Friends on Your Child
The wisdom of Solomon (Proverbs 13:20) teaches us that “the one who associates with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm”. This is especially true with the impressionable young minds of children. Be sure to understand who your child is associating with and provide a proper vetting procedure for friends. Perception by association is a real phenomenon that can potentially hinder your child’s prospects for future success.
The influence that your child’s peer group has on them cannot possible be overstated. They will want to dress in a similar fashion, go to the same places and participate in the same activities. Everyone, especially at a young age, will strive to fit in with a peer group for both companionship and protection from being socially ostracized. It’s important to keep the kids grounded in reality and ensure that they are reminded to be an individual. Group-think is a dangerous phenomenon that can lead to undesirable consequences, especially if left unchecked by the careful eye of a parent.
It’s difficult to let go of your children in order to help them develop on their own and make decisions. You might feel the desire to, but controlling them is not a long-term option, as the more oppressed they are the more likely they will be to rebel and go against everything you’ve ever taught. Instead, focus on guiding them in life as a trusted partner and sage giver of wisdom and experience. They will appreciate you more and are more likely to revert to your teachings in times of stress.
You will undoubtedly encounter rowdy kids whose behaviors may baffle your mind. The manner in which they are being (or not being) raised will influence their actions and may exist in stark contrast to the teachings of your own child. By understanding why they might act that way, we can better prepare our children to interact with them, and possibly help them by providing the normalcy and compassion that they may not experience regularly.
Many factors go into the decision-making process of a young, impressionable mind. Environmental factors, such as socioeconomic status, familial stability and peer group can greatly influence the behaviors of youth. Engaging your kids in meaningful and earnest conversation will ensure that you are an influence in their lives for years to come, and will assist them in making good decisions in the face of peer pressure.
Cementing a solid thought process and instilling a positive value structure will provide them with the tools necessary to be successful in any situation. Undeniably, the time will come where you have to let your little bird learn to fly. Learn to let go and trust in the work you’ve done and everything will be okay.