Tuesday, April 12, 2011

But I don't want to be the bad guy

I read an article this morning in The Cross Timbers Gazette about a family who used Youth & Family Counseling. It starts off with “Although he lived in an intact family with both of his biological parents, the 13-year-old Denton County boy was facing truancy charges, experimenting with drugs, “huffing” paint, and associating with gang members.” My first thought is—how does an 8th grader skip school that much and get into this much trouble? The article goes on to explain “The boy and his 10-year-old brother had very little supervision because his parents worked long hours.” Ah, that explains a lot.

Now I realize parents have to work. I realize that sometimes both parents have to work. Let me finish telling you what the article said before I explain where I’m going.

“The parents opened a dialog regarding working as partners and agreed that not intervening in their son’s behavior put both his and his younger brother’s future, and possibly lives at risk. They were educated on realistic and age-appropriate expectations and how to implement consequences, and then they somewhat reluctantly instituted new family rules. When their joint efforts met with success in solving their son’s truancy problem, they gained a great deal of confidence in themselves as parents. They defined additional expectations and reported that they had new confidence in their parenting abilities that they home was much happier with less conflict and they no longer feared for their children’s future.”

Notice the parents worked together as partners. This is a key. When marriage partners are a team, the family is more stable and the kids feel more secure. Next, “they were educated on realistic and age-appropriate expectations.” That sure makes me wonder what these parents were expecting of their sons. Remember, your kids aren’t adults and they are not the same as you were when you were a kid. Then they had to be educated on “how to implement consequences, and then they somewhat reluctantly instituted new family rules.” Something that always bugged me when I was teaching were the parents who told me—I’m only with my kids for a little while each day, I don’t want to be the bad guy. Well, consider this story as a lesson in what can happen if you refuse to be the bad guy and have some consequences and family rules.

Finally, did you see the results when everyone worked together, changed expectations, and implemented consequences and rules? Many of the problems were solved and they had a happier home with less conflict.

I’m not saying that we can fix all our families problems or we will never have trouble with our kids, but rules, consequences, and appropriate expectations are necessary folks.

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