Many parents today worry about being strict and enforcing discipline with their children out of fear of losing them as friends. However, if you really look at the parent/child relationship it's actually quite different from that of a friend. With none of my friends did I ever share the deep and intimate connection that I share with my kids. If I were ever asked if I wanted to be my child's friend instead, I would quickly say “No way!" I consider that as quite a step down from the connection we presently have as parent and child.
Many adults have personally experienced growing up and growing away from a constant power struggle with their own parents. No matter what you did as a child it was never quite good enough, never right. As a result, it is not always a pleasure to hang out with your own parents. With this in mind, now that we are parents, we want to do things differently - we want to maintain a life-long friendship and rewarding connection with our kids. But exactly how do we do that?
First, let's consider a more interesting way of asking that familiar ‘parent or friend’ question. Ask instead, “How can you keep the deep connection with your child while going through the childhood years and at the same time hold your child accountable to the rules?" I have discovered, through many years of research and experience, that by building awareness and curiosity while focusing on discipline without punishment, that parents now have the opportunity to break the old parenting patterns and build the type of parent/child relationship we really want.
As an example, let's look at something that often gets in-between the strong connection we all had with our parents when we were small children. . . power-struggles! Two emotionally engaged parties colliding - both parties judging each other and making each other wrong. Out of that struggle, dishonesty, manipulation, and distrust arises and deepens. This eventually makes it very uncomfortable to be around the people you once loved and respected more than anyone.
The easiest way I have found to avoid power struggles is to quit thinking of yourself as your child's ‘boss’ and establish yourself as their ‘coach’ instead. Just this change in attitude alone can make a HUGE difference! Think of it like a sports team or a board game. All the players on the team (your children) know the rules and the consequences for breaking each rule. In a game the consequence may be losing a turn or paying a fine. On your family team the consequence may be a time-out and a cleaning assignment. But in either case, breaking a rule is not a power-struggle anymore. No one is bad or wrong and the emotional charge is removed from the situation.
When you are the coach of the family team, you are in charge and you decide what you need in order to have fun. You make the rules and you hold your child accountable to your rules. The kids can even create their own consequences (subject to your approval of course). This greatly lessens the chance of having a consequence turn into a power struggle or punishment since it was clearly understood and agreed upon in advance.
You do not have to be perfect. In fact, it is much better if you are not perfect (or pretend to be perfect!) as long as mistakes are looked at openly and honestly - for both parents and children alike - without judgment and criticism. Your child's trust will deepen when they can reliably count on such honesty and accountability all around.
My own experience so far is very positive. In the 16 years that I have worked with parents in this method I can see with them and with my own family, that the respect and connection between the parents and children has not just remained intact, it has deepened as their children have grown older. Even the notoriously difficult teenage years become much much easier. When the connection is one of honesty and respect without judgment, teenagers will continue to rely on their parents for guidance.
Bottom line, by using MacKenzie Responsive Parenting, it's not only a lot more fun for you to be a parent to your child than to be a friend, it's a lot more valuable as well. Your kids will have many friends who may come and go throughout their life, but they will only have one chance to have a deep parental bond and from that learn how to become effective parents themselves.
(C) Copyright 2005, Nue Nue Education
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Nicole Mackenzie's simple, yet proven Responsive Parenting Method shows parents how to raise more responsible and happier kids using non-judgmental awareness, curiosity and discipline without punishment - plus have fun in the process! Nicole is an author and mother of 6 children. She has been a facilitator, speaker, coach and trainer for 16 years. For a free parenting eClass, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://rulenumberone.com .