Often times I hear many parents disclosing parental guilt that they themselves are not even aware. Unfortunately, parental guilt can and often times does lead to enabling the child. Parental guilt can be parents self-blaming, or feeling guilty about parenting techniques and strategies among a host of other reasons. It can be displayed by inconsistency, or not being firm in disciplining; or even giving in to the child’s unnecessary demands. This in-turn can lead to enabling the child. The best rule of thumb is to ask yourself if what you are doing is in the best interest of your child. Making decisions out of guilt typically aren’t in the best interest of the child.
Enabling starts when parents don’t hold their children accountable. Parents believe that they are helping the child, but in reality they are upholding the child’s undesired behavior, or even worsening the problem. So the situation that the parent is trying to resolve is actually being encouraged, and has a negative effect on the child’s perception of reality on how things work outside of the home. Enabling keeps the child from being aware of harm that can be caused from their behaviors. It also prevents them from realizing the necessity, or urgency for them to change undesired behaviors. Enabling and not holding children accountable does not afford the child to completely flourish and grow; robs them of full self-sufficiency.
Love and Logic
Although parents want to love, protect, and shield their children, and even want them to have it better then they did as children, enabling them is not the answer. Try love and logic.
According to the Love and Logic Institute,
“The Love and Logic approach to parenting is built around the science of crafting caring and respectful relationships. An authentic, loving connection between parents and their children is the root of a healthy, thriving relationship built on trust and understanding.
The “Love” in Love and Logic means that we love our kids so much that we are willing to set and enforce limits. This “Love” also means that we do so with sincere compassion and empathy.
The “Logic” in Love and Logic happens when we allow children to make decisions, affordable mistakes and experience the natural or logical consequences.”
Logical Consequences and Natural Consequences
Life is a invaluable lesson, and often natural consequences are our best teachers. Parents cannot prevent all unfortunate things from happening to their children, even though desired, nor can they be with them at all times. The best way to protect your child is to afford them life experiences through teaching opportunities that allow them to learn from their mistakes. When consequences occur, learning also occurs. Children learn about the outcomes of their decision making and choices. The reality is that no one’s life is without pain, challenges or frustration. However, we all learn from those experiences.
Logical consequence are those planned and implemented as a result of a behavior. Logical consequences are reasonable and respectful consequences enforced by parents such as removing privileges, time-out, and grounding (withholding rewards, and assigning penalties). Logical consequences should never be paired with humiliation, shame, dehumanizing, physical abuse or emotion abuse.
Natural consequence are things that naturally occur as a result of a behavior. A natural consequence would be getting cold because the child refused to wear a coat, or being hungry because they refused to eat. Unlike logical consequences, are not planned, nor are they controlled (inevitable). Natural consequences, like logical consequences, should never be paired with shame, but instead with empathy and a teaching moment. For example, the child refuses to eat and then complains of being hungry. The parent empathizes with the child and responds in a manner that will afford a learning experience for the child. For instance, “ I’m sorry that you are hungry. You refused to eat your food earlier. Are you ready to eat your food now? By empathizing, explaining the natural consequence, and giving the child a choice, the child has now learned the natural consequence of refusing to eat.
Children will not always be happy with their parent’s decisions. However, as a parent, it is the parent’s obligation to make decisions in the best interest of the child. Parents can not be their child’s friend, that would blur parental responsibility, as well as confuse, and blur boundaries for the child.
Sure it may feel hurtful when your child says resentful things to you because of your discipline, rearing choices and decisions. However, they’ll love and respect you way more for it later.
So stop feeling guilty about make choices and decisions in the best interest of your child, and start parenting with purpose, love, logic, natural and logical consequences. You’ll raise an emotionally healthier, and happier human being.