Parenting: Teaching or Dictating; Gandhi or Pol Pot?

by S.A. Prince/

Let me preface this: “Obviously” this isn’t about any of the parents who are reading this article. You all are “good” parents and would never behave in this manner. Still, keep an open mind and open heart.

We’ve seen this before. You know, the parent who grabs their child by the arm like that child is an object. Of course, there are times where you should grab your child in a robust manner, but these are few and far between, such as when the well-being of your child hangs in the balance. Let’s say for instance if they’re about to run into traffic or crawl into a gorilla pit, feel free to snatch them up. But, if they’re just not behaving then maybe you can try another way.

I often see parents that have an unhealthy relationship with their child. They are either too overbearing or too lenient. It’s a fine line, and finding a level of harmony with your child takes a lot of patience, but patience is exactly what is required.

“I’m the parent. You’re a child. Know your place!” If I had a penny for every time I heard a parent scream that at their child I’d be Bill Gates rich.

Children obey your parents for it is well pleasing to the Lord.

Honor they father and thy mother: that thy days be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Those are two scriptures in the Bible, and I love quoting the Bible because there are some absolute gems within its pages, regardless of how you may feel about Christianity. The second scripture is actually one of the 10 commandments. Here’s another scripture:

Train a child up the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.

From these scriptures we can infer that it is the responsibility of the child to obey and listen to their parents, and it is the responsibility of the parent to teach the child. That’s the relationship between parent and child, and that’s the relationship between God and human. To teach.

A teacher, not a boss or a slave driver, or a drill sergeant, but a teacher.

What is a teacher:

Rusul Alrubail, an education commentator and CEO of The Writing Project says that a teacher is, “Kind, Compassionate, Empathetic, Positive, a Builder, and Inspirational.”

Grabbing your child, screaming at them, and/or “putting them in their place,” are none of the qualities that Alrubail highlights, regardless of how frustrating your child may be behaving. It takes hard work to be a parent. You agreed to do the hard work on the day that your child was conceived. Don’t be a half-ass parent. Don’t take a shortcut. Sure, you may yell at your child and they may shut up…for a moment. You may grab your child and twist their arm, and that may make them act right…for a moment. But, what are the long term implications of such whimsical and impetuous behavior? Likely they too will become tyrants, tyrants to their friends and those around who they feel “better than,” invoking their will by force like their parents.

Do everyone a favor. The next time your child begins to act out, don’t yell at them or threaten them with physical harm. Do what a teacher would do. Get on your knee, look them in the eye, and ask them “What do you need?” Treat your children with the humanity they deserve, like human beings and not animals, and maybe, just maybe, we can raise a confident and emotionally healthy generation.


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