Most would agree that responsible parenting would be described as follows:
1. A mother and father who are committed to each other and treat each other with mutual respect.
2. A mother and father who provide guidance and instill values in their children.
3. A mother and father who act as role models for their children.
Now, of course, it is not a perfect world and the above is difficult to find. I am certainly not claiming to possess all the above parental attributes all the time but it does give me a solid goal to work toward. Let’s describe each of these attributes in more depth.
A mother and father who are committed to each other and treat each other with mutual respect. This is a very tall order and one that I personally have never seen in this world. Why? It is because children learn from their parents. When parents are being deceptive and dishonest, cheating, calling each other names, being inconsiderate of each other, making fun of each other, taking each other for granted and divorcing each other… how are our children ever going to learn what a healthy, functional relationship is?
A healthy, functional relationship would involve taking it very slow and getting to know each other, building trust with each other, and constantly keeping communication open. If this healthy relationship was built… it is my theory that parents would be much less likely to be deceptive and dishonest, cheat, call each other names, be inconsiderate, make fun of each other, take each other for granted or divorce each other. Why would they? Their emotional needs would be being met.Of course even healthy relationships involve arguing but is the arguing itself an addiction or is it helping you understand one another better? Is it constructive or is it just plain hurtful?
A mother and father who provide guidance and instill values in their children. Responsible parenting involves providing children with boundaries and structure. Children are selfish by nature. They will be manipulative to get what they want. It is up to the parents to teach them that manipulating people to get what they want is not allowed. It is up to the parents to teach their children to communicate what they want and discuss whether their “wants” are reasonable or ridiculous.
For instance, in the past we have given my 5-year old ginger ale when she has a sore throat. She has put two and two together and now whenever someone has ginger ale in the general vicinity she pretends to have a sore throat. She is being manipulative. Children are very smart. They are much smarter than most give them credit for. So, when she does this I explain to her that if she lies to get the ginger ale, nobody is going to believe her when she really does have a sore throat. Of course, I don’t think she really understands but if I continue to explain this to her over and over again hopefully she’ll “get it” by the time she reaches adulthood.
Spanking your child is not responsible parenting. This is coming from a mother who has spanked her children. I’m relatively new at this and I’m learning. I thought it through and evaluated my behavior when I did this. This is sending the wrong message to them. It is never okay to physically harm someone. If we spank our children because they are not listening to us, it is just sending a clear message that it is okay to physically hurt someone when they do not listen to you.
“Time out” is really the way to go. Supernanny got it right. I equate “time out” with jail. I put my daughters on a pillow in the corner of a room and have them sit there and think about what they have done. The first time I started doing this when my daughter was 4, it took me 45 minutes to just keep putting her back on that pillow until she finally stayed there for 4 minutes. But now, she just pretty much stays there. Then I ask her “why were you in time out?” She will respond and tell me, “because I pushed my sister” or “because I didn’t listen to you, ” etc. It forces them to take some “time out” and think about their behavior. Spanking however, just declares to them that “two wrongs make a right” and that is never the case. A person can only be responsible for his or her own behavior and the “blame game” needs to stop. “I did that because he or she did this.” We cannot be responsible for the actions of others, only our own.