By Jeannette Webb
Looking back on the years when my home was bustling with children and their activities, I have to admit I was a despot, albeit a loving one. While I am a flexible parent and encouraged self-expression, there were certain words that were totally banned in our home.
Words that would affect their belief in themselves
If you tell yourself something often enough, it becomes truth. Thus words like:
- I can’t
- This is too hard
- I’m bored
were never allowed to escape the lips of my children. I kept our studies interesting and made our home and surroundings as stimulating as possible. Even so, my kids had a great deal of hard, tedious slogging in their studies, their off farm jobs, as well as keeping our home and farm running and food on the table. They accepted it as a part of life and never complained (because they were trained from infancy not to). They grew up thinking that anything was possible and they were capable of doing whatever they set their minds to.
Words that revealed bad manners
Okay, so I’m from the south, but bad manners drive me nuts. And bad manners in kids show me that parents are asleep at the wheel. Responses like “Yeah” instead of “Yes mam” weren’t tolerated in our house. We expected “mam,” “sir,” “please,” and “thank you.” I expect doors to be opened for me and for my chair to be pulled out at dinner. The male that is closest has the honors.
Words that reflect bad attitudes
I had to train my kids just like any parent and they tried whining a few times when they were small. I would just smile and tell them I couldn’t hear a whiney voice. If they wanted something they could speak to me in a normal voice. Then I would ignore them until the pitch changed. I never heard whining after the age of two. I expected a smile and a willing heart to do whatever was needed and that’s what I got. I also expected respect. I am shocked when I hear teens responding to any adult (or anyone at all) with an attitude soaked “whatever.” I can promise you that word was never uttered in this house. My kids were too smart for that. They knew heads would roll.
By and large, our kid’s words and their attitudes are a reflection of what we expect and what we allow. By expecting polite adult behavior and not allowing rudeness or attitude, I can honestly say that the teen years were a joy for me. I never dealt with what most folks consider normal teenage behavior. It’s not normal. Trust me. But, you, as the parent, are the one who sets the standards.
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