Colorado Springs, CO
Friday, February 24, 2012
Valentine's Day gave us a great opportunity to love our children to the hilt. Now that all the candy's gone and the roses have faded, how do parents stay connected to their child's heart and at the same time wear a "warden's" hat?
Here's an answer hot off the presses: become a legitimate authority figure to your child (University New Hampshire study, Newswise 2/10/2012).
Now, wait a Texas minute. Don't all parents automatically qualify as legitimate authority figures? In theory, yes, but the University of New Hampshire study says no: it's your child who decides whether you are a legitimate authority figure.
Hold on. Don't start throwing rotten tomatoes just yet.
There's good news from the study. When children accept their parents' authority as legitimate, they become self-reliant, self-controlled, content, and are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior. They feel obliged to obey their parents. And here's the key qualifying factor: you creating a trusting and respectful relationship with your child by listening to and explaining control issues.
And here's the bad news: self-reliance, self-control, and contentment are not as well established when children are force-fed control (authoritarian parenting) or when necessary control is not imposed enough (permissive parenting).
Many parents will find this idea of qualifying as an authority figure downright revolting. But if you'd like to get these positive outcomes, read the following brief tutorial on authority qualification.
The key factor is adding "sweetener" to your warden job.
A good parent-warden knows that children need to be socialized and that following rules plays a big part in getting the job done. Outside control is essential from birth on. You will not get inside self-control without it.
Control's a lot easier for children to swallow when it's sweetened with respect from their parents: listening, customizing, and explaining your rules. When teen Jon never studies for tests and gets poor grades as a result, first listen to his reasons—seriously. Second, customize your study plan by what you hear Jon say. And finally, explain the plan supportively with clear requirements: specific study time for test prep, and consequences if it's not done. Get his feedback on the plan and tweak if necessary.
If the problem is long term, add more sweetener: a reward for compliance and improved test grades.
Now we know the basics of this legitimate authority business. It all boils down to children feeling respected while their parents apply control. Start respectful controlling, and your child will acquire healthy self-control by internalizing your life values.
Take-home lesson: Parenting with respectful control results in children respecting your authority and living the good life.
Colorado Srpings, CO