1. To be safe
2. To be loved
3. To be happy
How we work it at our house is to aim for the top two and if we hit number three, to be happy, that's a bonus. It is not an accident that I have put these points together in that order of preferance - it is essential that it runs in that particular order. Not having a strong grasp on what they are aiming for and in what order, often sees parents flailing about in parenthood wondering why things aren't happening the way they are supposed to and what went wrong.
Now don't get my wrong. I am not saying that my kids are perfect ... because they certainly are not! (See my previous post Sometimes I don't like my kids very much) What I am saying is that sometimes parents get it arse about and I find it very frustrating to witness.
I was talking to a friend on the phone a while ago and she was talking about a friend of hers, "oh, she's having a lot of problems with discipline and her daughter. It's really hard for her, she's a single mum and she doesn't know when to put her foot down sometimes. I mean she wants to be her daughter's friend, she doesn't want her not to like her, of course." Now, please don't take this as a rant about single mums (because it certainly is NOT) but come on! Here is where I had to stop myself from really going off. The thing is, you don't carry a child for nine months and then give birth to them because you need more friends, grow up. If you need more friends get off your arse and go out and meet them!
The job of a parent is to mould their kids into decent human beings who contribute to society. If I have to see one more teenage kid going on, on TV about how they hate everyone and they just don't like being told what to do, I think my head might explode. Here's a secret, nobody likes being told what to do. Nobody likes having to go by the rules... but here's the really important part, that's how society functions. Otherwise we might as well be living in the outback with a kill or be killed mentality, everyone for themselves folks, run for your lives!!
Seriously, if I have to listen to one more parent whining about how their kids won't listen or won't go to bed or won't get on the school bus or whatever it is, I may have to punch them. At the end of the day, you are the parent and if you aren't running the show ... then who is?? I am certainly not saying that kids aren't going to challenge your authority, that's their job. Of course there going to give it a run.
What I am talking about are those crap kids (and their ilk) on 'World's strictest parents'. Contrary to what the parent's state each week, they did not wake up one day and find an uncontrollable jerk living in their house - those parents have been moulding them into that jerk for years. By making choices for their child to be happy because they haven't wanted to get them off side - "oh no, my child may not like me". (Whatever, some days you don't like them very much either). They have often chosen the easiest way out (at the time), the route that left them feeling most popular. I might point out that the easiest way does not appear so easy when your child becomes a teenager who feels entitled to be happy doing whatever they want, when they want, with whoever they want and you can go and get stuffed while they're at it.
I often say to my child, it is my job to make sure that he is safe and it is very important for him to know that he is loved - but I will always choose those two over him being happy. I am certainly not saying that as a parent I do not feel fulfilled unless my child is unhappy, that's not it at all. What I am saying is that if they are happy as a by product of being safe and being loved then that's great but I will never give in to just making them happy at the expense of being safe and loved. If that means making the hard or unpopular calls sometimes then, so be it.
The really exciting thing about this method of parenting is that when your children reach adulthood you will want to become friends with them because they are the type of decent human being you would like to hang out with.