It’s been awhile, but do you remember the movie Gremlins? In that movie, a boy is given an unusual creature as a pet. With the Mogwai, he is given three rules:
1. Never expose it to a bright light.
2. Never get it wet.
3. Never, ever feed it after midnight.
So, what does the boy do right away? He accidentally spills water on the Mogwai (which reproduced more Mogwai) and was charmed into feeding the bunch after midnight, (which caused the small heard to turn into mean demon-like creatures).
Children are not a lot different from Mogwai. We as parents want to give our children everything that their little heart’s desire, but we know if we do that, they too will turn into gremlins. Your best defense is a good offense in that parents need to work together to raise happy, healthy and harmonious children. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
Don’t Be Played
Kids don’t really play favorites when they want something. They are just looking for the parent who will give them the least amount of resistance when asking for said thing. They also learn at an early age that when one parent says “no” to a specific request, the other just might say “yes,” and when a child hears, “It’s okay with me if it’s okay with your mother,” they know that they have about a 75 percent chance of getting what they want.
Sooner or later, your child will skip the middleman and come to you directly and fib, “But Daddy says it’s okay.” If you’re not prepared for this, you’ll fall right into their trap. The trick here is to be on the same page as your spouse when it comes to important things like bed times, snacks, play time, etc. Your child needs to learn that if you say “no” that your spouse will say “no,” too. If your child states, “But Daddy said I could” – challenge them by asking your spouse directly. If it turns out that your child is fibbing, then a punishment is called for no matter how cute they looked when asking. You want to nip this bad behavior in the bud.
It’s common for households to have one “easy” parent and one “hard” parent. The easy parent can be persuaded by children while the hard parent cannot. Sometimes parents don’t want to have to give a “because” answer to every “why” question, so they give in easily. Don’t be the easy parent. Stand strong and unified with your spouse. If your spouse has given a rule that sounds unreasonable to you, talk to them about it later and see if you can meet somewhere in the middle. Never say to the child, “Well, I would let you if it was up to me, but your mother said no.” If she says “no,” you say “no” – period.
Don’t Revolve around Your Children
Some parents don’t get the concept that they don’t have to give up their entire lives for their children. Yes, sacrifices need to be made, but just because a child comes into your home doesn’t mean that he is the center of it. Your children don’t have to go to every birthday party that comes along. They don’t have to do every activity that they want to. They don’t have to have a kitten if they will not be able to take care of it. They don’t get the “yes” answer just because mom or dad doesn’t want to have a fight when they say “no.” Believe it or not, children understand better than we think they do when it comes to family commitments. Sometimes your children will be disappointed, but it will not kill them.
Most families will have one over-protective parent and one carefree parent. When their child wants to climb a tree, one parent will say “no” because they don’t want their child to get hurt while the other parent will say, “sure, go ahead” as they know that bumps and bruises are a way of life. The second parent tends to be the right one here, but sometimes they need to make sure that the child will be relatively safe when they do allow their child to take risks. There needs to be a middle ground here. If you never let your child experience some risks in life, they will end up fearing everything. On the other hand, if you too permissive, you’ll be paying for a lot hospital bills or worse.