My oldest girl turned 13 this past weekend. Those of you following me on Twitter or Facebook probably heard about the big party she had, and how her old man struggled to deal with 15 teenage girls. Honestly though, the party was fine, the girls all behaved (for the most part), and Amanda made me proud. She and her sisters are good girls, and while the next 10 years will most likely be filled with stress and drama around the Powers house — I’m confident they’ll turn out to be the successful young ladies we’ve raised them to be. Mind you, by successful I mean oh so much more than financially successful. I certainly hope for that, but really it’s only a small part of success.
Why am I confident our girls will turn out OK? Quite honestly there are many reasons. One, we really won the lottery when it comes to progeny, and the 3 girls are fine examples of human beings. That means they are good little lumps of clay. That also means they need to be molded. While I don’t claim to be a great parent, I think we’ve done pretty good so far. The next decade will really tell the story, but I wanted to share some insight at this point. Perhaps I’ll look back at this and bitterly laugh at myself, but even if that’s the case, I doubt I’d change anything in the past.
Discipline and Punishment are Not the Same Thing
Donna and I are strict disciplinarians. We were even more strict when the kids were younger (seriously). Being strict when your kids are young means that you earn credibility early on. You earn respect. You earn trust. If there is one thing I wish I could convince young parents it is that discipline is not mean. Children crave discipline, whether they know it or not. Ask any decent sports coach. A team with discipline is a more effective, and happier team.
But here’s the rub: Discipline is hard. I’m no Dr. Spock, but if you think discipline is just punishing a child when they misbehave, Ur doin it rong. Discipline is an elaborate dance involving consistency, firmness, fairness, and most of all, communication. No, life isn’t fair — but as parents, you certainly ought to be!
Kids are Smart. They’re Immature Sometimes, but Smart.
There is a drastic difference between a child that is angry at you for punishing them, and a child that thinks you are incorrect for punishing them. No, you can’t always convince a child they need to be punished, but if you’re open with them, they’re more likely to respect your reasoning.
The funny thing about discipline and consistency is that if you explain to your child why you’re punishing them — even if they vehemently disagree, they’ll understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. Very often, if you don’t punish them, you lose all credibility. Again, even if they don’t admit or realize it, kids like discipline.
Put Away the Shotgun.
The strong father figure cleaning his shotgun is fine. Really. I have no problem with putting the fear of God into a young man as he’s given the responsibility of caring for the father’s daughter. For me, however, I’d look absurd cleaning a shotgun. Guns aren’t my thing. Oh, I’m intimidating, and any boy will tremble before he takes out my daughters — but my weapon of choice is psychology. Your mileage may differ.
Here’s the thing though, you can be as scary as you want, your daughter is the one that will ultimately make choices on how the evening goes. There is nothing more formidable than a confident young lady that trusts and respects her parents, knowing they trust and respect her in return. Let me repeat that, as it’s so vital, there is nothing more formidable than a confident young lady that trusts and respects her parents, knowing they trust and respect her in return. Sure, I can be the muscle, but it’s her life, she has to be the brains.
And with that, I’m going to go talk to my kids. You should do the same. (Not my kids, but you know what I mean…)