Homes 204: Parenting

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Homes 203: Preparing For Children

There is no universal standard on raising children

  • Your ability to succeed at everything else in life will determine your success as a parent
  • Each parenting style needs to be adapted and changed to match the personality of the child, which is impossible to predict
    • Some children are more non-social and others feel anxious when they’re alone
    • Some children are hyperactive while others are quiet
    • Some children are expressive and others are subdued in their behavior
    • Some children are intense while others are devious
  • Most great parents learn how to adapt more than how to be prepared for everything
  • A child needs both a mother and a father
    • A present and involved father is absolutely necessary for a child’s development
      • Many major mental disorders and personal problems are linked to an inadequate or missing father figure
      • They are also more likely to commit suicide, rape, run away from home, drop out of school and be institutionalized
    • A mother is necessary to teach a child to love themselves and love others
  • Make a list of things you want to keep teaching your child across their whole childhood
    • Keep the list to no more than 10 items
    • Make the values on the list a part of your own personal life’s motto
  • Raising children doesn’t have to be stressful
    • Take each day one at a time
    • Avoid spending a lot of time learning from other stressed parents
    • Clarify what you’re going to do in different scenarios to be ready for when the time comes

Be the person you want your children to be

  • Learn from your own parents and grandparents
    • If they raised you well, learn what worked best from them
    • If you weren’t parented correctly, pay attention to what they did and work hard to never repeat it
    • Often, the support and input of older friends or extended family is just as valuable
  • The rules you live your life by, along with how much you honor them, is what they’ll learn more than what you actually say
    • Every detail of hypocrisy, social norms and lifestyle decisions will be passed on to them somehow
    • By the time they’re 12, they will know everything you’ve taught them, even if they don’t have the information you’ve shared
    • They will learn boundaries from you, or they will create their own if you don’t have ones that make sense to them
  • The way that you talk to them becomes their inner voice
    • There is a time and a place to speak harshly or speak softly, depending on the situation
      • However, there is never a time to yell, and yelling is often a sign of unhealthy parenting
    • Learn stress-management skills and ways to maintain happiness to give them the right model as you discipline them
    • Respect them as growing, learning people by not speaking condescendingly or rudely
  • A good parent will lead a child through their example
    • Unconditionally loves and respects others
    • Comforts, encourages and nurtures
    • Genuinely bonds with family and friends
    • Realistically optimistic and hopeful
    • Consistent leader in setting goals and solving problems
    • Touches and hugs as appropriate
    • Looks at mistakes compassionately as opportunities to learn and grow
    • Encourages everyone to shamelessly own their own limitations
    • Shares a spiritual faith
    • Balances working and playing
    • Values learning and open to new ideas or changes
    • Encourages appropriate relationships and trust with others
    • Encourages expression emotions and shows how those emotions are useful guides to valid needs

Though kids are important, your marriage is still more important

  • Your marriage is more important than your children, since they will be raised wrongly without a good marriage to model
    • Single parenting is possible, but nobody can replace that child’s mom or dad
  • Keep the romantic passion going
    • Have someone babysit and make a date night
    • Get several sets of parents together to make a routine for date nights
    • Kiss her in public and in front of the kids
    • Continue affirming your love and gratitude for them
  • The traditional model has been proven for thousands of years to work
    • The man gets a career and guides the directions for the household as he financially provides for it
    • The woman works to upkeep a home and manage the smaller details of raising children
    • Whoever is more analytical is responsible for managing finances

Children need a few more things than their parents for wellness

  • They need everything that a parent needs, but with different levels of some of them
    • They need more sleep than adults
      • 0-3 months needs 14-17 hours a day
      • 4-11 months needs 12-15 hours a day
      • 1-2 years needs 11-14 hours a night
      • 3-5 years needs 10-13 hours a night
      • 6-13 years needs 9-11 hours a night
      • 14-17 years needs 8-10 hours a night
    • They need more food for their size
      • Give them more protein to help them grow faster
      • If they start getting obese, replace their diet with healthier alternatives
    • They need close friends to play with and have fun with
    • They need more physical time to play outside to be happy and grow
    • The need for a stable and loving home is absolutely vital for their sense of security
    • Children often need to be part of a greater physical purpose
      • Organized and team sports
      • Community groups like the Boy Scouts
      • Special interest groups like karate or band
      • Shared family tasks
    • Most children need lots of emotional support and for their parents to be approachable and supportive of them
  • You need to build a relationship with them
    • Healthy relationships are based on good boundaries, time together and affection
    • You aren’t raising children, you’re raising people, and it is very easy for parents get stuck in bad habits that the children outgrow
    • You need to acknowledge and connect with their feelings or they will never feel valued or loved
      1. Help them verbally label their emotions to help them to understand them and process them
      2. Validate and openly accept all of their emotions
      3. Communicate your values on appropriate behavior in light of their emotions
      4. Set limits when they misbehave regarding the values you’ve clarified to them
  • There are some things that children don’t need, though many cultures fail to notice that it’s unnecessary
    • They don’t need the parents to make more money, and there is zero correlation between their happiness and family’s income
    • They don’t need “educational” toys or any consumer goods, though they may think they need it from some other lack of needs met
    • A child doesn’t need as much protection from failure as most modern parents want to give them
    • Extended family is not necessary for a child to grow (especially dysfunctional family), they just need input from others

Try to inspire them to learn and act properly on their own

  • Teach them the groundwork of all success
    • How to be clearly aware of emotions, thoughts, hunches, intuitions and current needs
      • How to prioritize them in order to react to life challenges in healthy, safe and satisfying ways
    • How to think critically, objectively, clearly and independently to make effective decisions
    • How to develop a realistic identity and emotional awareness of self and others
    • How to communicate effectively
    • How to balance life successfully between extremes
      • Short-term pleasure versus long-term satisfaction
      • Pleasing others versus pleasing self
      • Realities of self and the world versus tempting illusions and distortions
      • Attitudes of pessimism, idealism and realistic optimism
      • Work, play and rest
      • Spirituality versus physical state of things
    • How to take personal authentic responsibility for the results of decisions and actions
      • This is in contrast to denial, blaming, confusion, pretending it doesn’t exist or taking it out on something else
      • There is a healthy level of personal shame attached to being responsible that accepts our limitations and doesn’t dwell on them
    • Giving others responsibility for their own choices, actions, feelings, health and wellness
    • How to re-learn attitudes, beliefs, habits and ideas that no longer fit new understandings of reality and goals
  • There are many disciplines a child will have to eventually learn, and a great parent teaches all of them
    • How to manage money by earning, saving and spending wisely
    • Basic skills like cooking, hygiene, housekeeping and laws
    • The way to make responsible and healthy decisions about dating, relationships and their own children
    • Comfort with uncertainty and ambiguity to be able to answer the eternal questions
      • Life and conception, aging, death
      • Our origins, God, evil, miracles
      • Trauma, joy, hope, love
    • Understanding the social skills of tact, empathy, intimacy, selective trust, assertiveness, cooperation, obedience and respectful confrontation
    • Adapt a meaningful life plan about where their life is going in the next several years and beyond
  • Limit their time with media built for uncreative consumption
    • This includes most television, many movies, most video games and a lot of books
    • Get them to play outside more often
    • Take them to new places consistently
  • Try to foster learning through exposure to good information
    • Post a map of the world or the periodic table of the elements in the bathroom
    • Teach them the reasons that guide why you perform and think about things in certain ways
    • Give them more responsibilities to try new things or to learn
  • If they are interested in something you don’t want them to be, there are a few answers to it
    • Find something related that they like and try to motivate them to change to it (e.g. redirect an interest in drums to an interest in guitar)
    • Find something that is inside of what they like and focus in more deeply on it (e.g. interest them in improvised percussions from their interest in drums)
    • Give up what you want them to like and find the good in their decisions (e.g. accept that they will always like drums)
  • Teach them to look for ways to be kind
    • Inspire them to encourage other children
    • Give them opportunities to show gratitude for others

Be careful with some things that look like they will make their life better

  • Don’t use the children as an excuse for bad decisions
    • Until they’re old enough, children are oblivious to most of their environment
    • Career and lifestyle changes can be adapted to by the kids, but should be for the benefit of everyone involved
      • Doing things justified as “for the kids” will damage the kids’ trust in you and your spouse to make decisions
      • Fun things that are outside of your financial means will be more difficult later
  • A child should never be the center of your world
    • They will become spoiled and entitled
    • They will expect that you are the constant provider of their happiness, which is dangerous and destructive in the long-term
    • If you give them everything you have, then they will assume they can have everything of yours later
    • Don’t try to be their friend when they’re young, they need a role model more than a friend and will grow into needing a friend later
  • Small children often don’t know what they want
    • We all want to be spoiled rotten, but it turns us all into horrible people
    • Teach them the value of hard work and the importance of waiting, both in how you structure their rewards and how you live your own life
    • Give them clear limits and boundaries by scheduling eating times, sleep times and fun/technology times
  • Don’t give ego-inflating affirmations
    • A child that thinks they are smart, gifted, brilliant and better than all the other kids will expect praise from everyone else
    • Never praise who they are, praise what they do
    • As they get older, praise less frequently for the same things, since they need to learn how to feel satisfaction in growing
    • If you create made-up awards for general things, they will be driven to either succeed for awards or become discouraged in the process
  • Most negative reinforcement will backfire horrifically
    • Telling them they’re not good enough will either make them perfectionists, apathetic or a disturbing mix of both
    • Repeating to them about how much you had to sacrifice for them sets an unfair expectation on them, since they didn’t ask to be born
    • Comparing kids to others, especially siblings, makes them feel unvalued outside of what they do
  • Giving them endless fun might be fun for you to see them happy, but it will give them anxiety when they visit the rest of the world
    • Though it’s easier to give them what they want than hear them complain, you’re doing them a disservice
    • Constant snacking will give them a constant neediness and will also risk obesity in the future
    • If you respond to their demands, they will learn to expect it
      • Teach them delayed gratification by withholding what they want until later
  • Let them fail and hurt themselves, even if it hurts to see it
    • They need to become comfortable with failures and setbacks, since that’s what most of life is made of
    • Protecting them too much has been directly linked to binge drinking later in life
    • If you try to fix all of their problems, you will do it long into their adulthood
  • Teaching kids about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy are fun, but will backfire later
    • As soon as children find out that they’ve been lied to, they are more likely to distrust everything else a parent says
  • Children shouldn’t be forced to do homework for hours every night
    • This leads to an addiction to work later
    • If they’re old enough to be assigned homework, it’s their responsibility to do it, and you’re not giving them the freedom to fail

Learn the art of disciplining children

  • If they’re too easily distracted or aren’t behaving well, learn how to improve their desire to focus
    • Get them socializing more
    • Give them outlets to explore
      • Provide building blocks and art supplies for their creativity
      • Give them fun and challenging projects and tasks that will help the family overall
      • Get involved with them in their creations
    • Limit their involvement with technology
      • It provides such a high level of stimulation that they’re unable to learn otherwise
      • Take away their phone, computer time or any other time with screens
      • If they whine don’t relent, give them alternative tasks
    • If they start demanding or putting up boundaries, you need to break their motivation
      • This is most easily done with spanking when they’re little, but will progress into other punishments
      • Ground them and restrict their toys, electronics or privileges
      • Require them to do chores for bad behavior
      • They have the reasoning skills of drunk people, so don’t expect them to understand anything subtle
  • There are a few types of children, and they are all motivated differently
    • Difficult children are temperamental, moody, angry, high-maintenance and loud
      • You need to understand their needs and make sure they understand your needs as well
      • Consistency is more important than anything, since they will push the boundaries more than other children
    • Sensitive children are creative, insightful, articulate, clingy, demanding and overly compassionate
      • Most of their behavior is a reaction to fear, which means that it’s best to constantly address their fears with reasoning and empathy
      • Any change could be terrifying to them so over-communicate what you are doing, why you’re doing it and anything that’s going on around you
    • Self-centered children are preoccupied with whatever they’re interested and don’t care about anything else
      • They are unaware of others or others’ needs, and they are simply acting out of not knowing
      • Strong, firm discipline and restrictions are necessary to teach them about others and to understand how others fit into their lives
    • Aggressive children are strong-willed, demanding, intense, rude and loud
      • They are acting out because they feel they have to fight for what they need
      • The motivations are usually from an unstable home, and they need to feel safe to act out in the right way
    • Defiant children are intentionally rebellious and stand strong against any authority
      • They are like sensitive children in that they are reacting to their environment, but try to control their environment instead of shutting down
      • Learn to be aware of what sets them off and try to keep them away from triggers
    • All difficult children can benefit from non-intrusive questions to gain understanding of them and to guide them to the answers on how to behave
      • All children need to know they are loved, even when their actions are wrong
      • Positive reinforcement is easiest when the children are given the freedom to come to answers on their own
  • Many times the need they indicate is not their actual need
    • Most children who act out are doing it because they need affirmation or recognition for behavior, irrespective of whether it’s good or bad recognition
    • If they’re upset over a loss, it could be the feeling of loss more than the actual thing that was lost

Make life easier on yourself

  • Find creative ways to motivate them
    • Give them plenty of affirmations to explore and succeed
      • Try it out!
      • It’s your choice
      • We love you and you are safe
      • You make me happy
      • I trust and believe you can do it
      • Have a great day, and don’t forget who you are
      • Accidents happen!
    • Go to fun places as a reward for good behavior
      • Children’s fun zones like Chuck E Cheese’s
      • Amusement parks
    • Give fun incentives to keep them motivated
      • Ice cream
      • Toys or games
      • Educational things that they’re interested in
      • More fun variations of staple items like bedding or soap
      • Teach them the correlation between work and rewards
    • Turn their routine into a game
      • Make their meal like a mission with objectives
      • Make their food look like cute animals
    • Whatever you do, don’t ever reward bad behavior
      • A child knows they will get what they want if they make it easier for you to reward them than punish them
      • This can be an act of patience and willpower on your end, and is how many parents fail
  • Find creative ways to punish them
    • If your child has wireless electronics, take away their charger and watch them suffer as the battery meter trickles downward
    • On long road trips bring a bag of candy that you promise to give them, then throw out a piece every time they misbehave
    • With more than one child
      • If they fight with each other, put them in a large Get Along Shirt as a time-out
  • Keep life fun with them to relieve stress and enjoy the limited time you will have with them
    • Play sports with them like organized sports or wrestling and make up your own
    • Have water balloon fights where you’re hiding with a water gun and they have to hit you with balloons
  • Just because the child is playing doesn’t mean you have to run around with them
    • Pull the swing for them from a long rope
    • Give them dogs to play with and take care of
  • Plan ahead to keep them safe
    • Any time you go somewhere with them, take photos of them to show an authority if they get lost
    • With the risk of child predators, don’t post pictures on the internet of them that can help them be abducted
      • Don’t osting locations in their photos
      • Don’t post photos of their hobbies or interests
      • Don’t show any photos that indicate their official information like name or birthday
      • Don’t post photos next to a car, since that can be inferred
      • Don’t show them half-dressed, even if you find it cute
      • Don’t show something that may embarrass them someday
      • Don’t post photos of them with their friends, since it can put the whole group at risk
    • If they are trick-or-treating and have dietary limitations with certain candy, send out letters with approved candy to every house they’ll visit
    • Make them wear a shirt that has a picture of you on it
      • Add a warning with a threatening photo if you’re concerned about boys dating your teenage daughter
  • Teach them how to leave you someday as soon as they have the skills to start doing it
    • Give them the liberty and freedom to experience risk and live life
    • Let them play outside without direct micro-management (around age 3)
    • Let them run errands as soon as they can carry things (around age 4)
    • Start paying them commission for the chores they do (around age 5)
    • Let them drive on a private non-public road (around age 12)
  • There are better things to get conversation going after school than “how was your day?”
    • What did you eat for lunch?
    • Did you catch anyone picking their nose?
    • What games did you play at recess?
    • What was the funniest thing that happened today?
    • Did anyone do anything super nice for you?
    • What was the nicest thing you did for someone else?
    • Who made you smile today?
    • Which one of your teachers would survive a zombie apocalypse? Why?
    • What new fact did you learn today?
    • Who brought the best food in their lunch today?
    • What challenged you today?
    • If school was a ride at the fair, what ride would it be? Why?
    • On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your day?
    • If one of your classmates could be the teacher for the day, who would you want?
    • What would you teach the class if you had to be the teacher tomorrow?
    • Did anyone irritate you today?
    • Who do you want to make friends with but haven’t yet? Why not?
    • What is your teacher’s most important rule?
    • What’s the most popular thing to do at recess?
    • Does your teacher remind you of anyone else you know? Why?
    • Tell me something you learned about a friend today.
    • If aliens took away 3 of the students, who would you want them to take? Why?
    • What’s one thing today you did that was helpful?
    • When did you feel most proud of yourself today?
    • What was the hardest rule to follow today?
    • What’s one thing you hope to learn before the school year is over?
    • Which person in your class is exactly the opposite of you?
    • What area of your school is the most fun?
    • What playground skill do you want to master this year?
    • Does anyone in your class have a hard time following the rules?

As they get older, the parenting needs to change

  • Whether they listen to you or not, they are still maturing biologically
    • They still hear you, even if they don’t appear to be listening
    • As they get older it’s tempting to force them to change, but it will become less and less effective if done wrongly
  • To avoid most parenting struggles, you need to slowly adapt your strategy
    1. Start with rooting your infant in good values, strong morals and healthy lifestyle decisions
    2. As they get older, keep inspiring them to develop on their own more and more independently
    3. They will hit a point when they’re smarter or more educated than you in some way
    4. Start giving them permission to fail and suffer the direct consequences of their decisions
    5. By the time they’re 13, they are biologically an adult and will demand to be treated like one
    6. Though intuition and instinct will tell you to hold onto control, they will find ways to fight you the harder you resist
    7. Change your role from controlling their life to supporting of their good decisions
    8. By the time they are an adult, they should have the freedom to go into the rest of the world as adults
    9. They will slowly come back to your point of view, at least partially, as they learn what you had to learn on your own

If the parenting goes wrongly, the family will become dysfunctional

  • There are distinct qualities of dysfunctional families
    • Extremely rigid family rules and roles
    • Little or no communication
    • High levels of tension or a lot of arguing
    • Family members use coping mechanisms of silence, blame and avoidance
    • There’s an overall message that members shouldn’t feel, talk or trust
  • These qualities come from a series of bad mentalities
    • Believes that change is up to the group, family or environment instead of the individual
    • Feels controlled by others but also takes responsibility for others’ feelings, thoughts and actions
    • Stuck in a vicious cycle of blaming that keeps them connected to their family’s continuing chaos
    • Can’t set or enforce effective boundaries that clarify how much should be tolerated
  • There are many different forms that a dysfunctional family takes
    • One or more family members are physically or sexually abused
    • Some of the members show inappropriate sexual behavior
    • Members are emotionally and psychologically abusive
    • Some of the members have addicitons
      • Chemical dependency on drugs or alcohol
      • Compulsive eating, dieting or gambling
      • Workaholic or addicted to a lifestyle
  • Unfortunately, a dysfunctional family will lead to future problems outside of the home
    • There are a few signs that someone has come from a dysfunctional home
      • Inability to make long term plans or goals by living each day as a disconnected random experience
      • Abusive relationships later on or unable to maintain relationships or be intimate
      • Having no idea what normal or healthy really is
      • Judging self and others relentlessly
      • Taking self very seriously and being overly responsibl
      • Trouble in carrying projects from beginning to end or being overly irresponsible
      • Difficulty adapting to other people and their needs
      • Constant need for approval or affirmation
      • Never dealing with conflict, but often avoiding or intensifying it
      • Fear of rejection and abandonment while rejecting others
  • It’s a simple answer for each person individually to undo family dysfunction, but it can be hard to accept
    • Learn to accept that change is up to each individual person and nobody else
    • Accept control of self and relinquish control of others
    • Create and enforce healthy boundaries with others and self
    • Get involved in a new and healthier support system of people who properly respect boundaries
      • Social events, hobbies, sport clubs
      • Religious affiliations
      • 12-step support and recovery groups
      • Individual therapy or group therapy specifically for dysfunctional families
    • Learn patience about the time that it takes to change

Great families go beyond the household

  • Everything is easier for a healthy family
    • Increased network from a shared community connected by biological ties
    • Nurturing and supportive environment that naturally fosters success, happiness and productivity
    • Clear family and personal goals are committed to and performed
    • Family rituals and customs support a shared culture that extends to other families
    • There is a spirit of service and balance guiding the family that extends beyond the household
  • Even with a great home, all children will grow up to become one or more of a few dysfunctional archetypes
    • The Hero that overperforms, outworks everyone and succeeds tremendously
      • They will often be very influential and make a difference wherever they go
      • They run the risk of being addicted to their work and never feeling good enough
    • The Scapegoat is the perceived problem of the family and the source of most of the family’s energy
      • They are often counter-cultural and against the standards society sets
      • Self-acceptance and personal happiness are difficult for them when they don’t have something to oppose
    • The Lost Child is low-maintenance and self-sufficient
      • They can handle things independently and naturally take on responsibilities by themselves
      • Their trouble comes from difficulty working in teams and being in a place where others rely on them
    • The Clown/Mascot is funny, entertaining to watch and fun to be around
      • They will usually be better performers and influential through conveying their personality
      • Getting serious and talking about intense things doesn’t come easily for them
    • The Enabler/Caretaker is the provider for everyone else’s needs
      • Their role often becomes a management position and they usually deal with complex logistics
      • Their greatest fear is to be in a place where they aren’t actually needed
  • The only way to have a successful family in the long run, though, is to let them move on with life
Next: Homes 205: Letting Your Children Go