– Who’s in charge? The parent or the child?

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My grandmother used to be fond of saying, “Most children are raised by amateurs, not professionals,” and I think she really hit the nail on the head with this one. Regardless of how much you read or the classes you attend, nothing really prepares you properly for parenthood. Only by experiencing it and looking back afterwards do you appreciate what is needed to be an effective mother and father, but then again, it’s too late.

Whether or not you’re paying attention to them, children will grow like weeds, and if you’re not actively involved with their development, I can assure you someone else will be, and probably not for the better. For example, if children do not pick up their manners and other socialization skills from their parents, they will inevitably learn it from classmates, neighbors, and the media. In terms of the latter, I’m not so much concerned what they are watching on “Sesame Street” as I am in terms of what they are watching on MTV and late night television.

What concerns me though is when children are left in charge of their own development. This happens when parents have either abdicated their parental duties due to other priorities or operate in fear of their offspring. That’s right, fear. Due to our litigious society some parents are actually afraid of disciplining their children as they might be accused of child abuse. Precocious children who have been paying attention to television and the Internet understand this and have actually turned the tables on some parents by threatening to falsely accuse their parents of inappropriate conduct. This makes the parents paranoid in terms of how to discipline their children thereby compounding the problem further. In other words, parents walk on eggshells in dealing with their own children. Instead of the child being subordinate to the parent, the parent becomes subservient to the child.

Although it is sad to see such a relationship emerge, parents have themselves to blame, simply because they maintained a “hand-off” approach to parenting in the earliest stages of the child’s development. So what can be done? It depends on the parents and the resources available to them. Corporal punishment might be suitable based on the old philosophy of “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” but perhaps not as a regular regimen. It might be preferable instead to seek professional help which would include counseling and possibly medication. Even better, try turning the TV off and unplugging the Internet, give them some chores and responsibilities to perform, put them on a timetable, follow-up, and don’t let them off the hook. Don’t worry about being their best friend, instead worry about being a good parent. In other words, it is your responsibility to engage them.

Originally published: 11/11/2008

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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