There is a great piece of wisdom from India, which encapsulates the very essence of the foundation for child rearing throughout the ages.
“A child must be brought up to understand the word NO. He should be taught yes first of all, then, yes and no, then no and yes, in such a way that he gradually comes to realize that there is really only NO. A child’s education is learning to understand the concept of no, and thus enables him to grow. Growing up means accepting the concept of “no” -Swami Prajinanpad
So many of us struggle with the ever-blurring line between the guilt of working and providing/surviving and over-indulging and when enough is enough, for ourselves and for our children. We all want to raise decent human beings, healthy, happy, contributing to the welfare of society and self-sufficient. How we arrive there has as many paths and possibilities as we have names. There is no right or wrong way; only paths and we all must choose the best way for our family and circumstances.
Since when did we become so soft on discipline? I know it’s easier to give in than it is to stand firm and set clear boundaries but, isn’t that part of the job description? How can we expect to raise strong and resilient, resourceful people if we don’t demonstrate those same qualities ourselves…it’s all about the leadership. No child deserves a private club membership, a wardrobe replete with designer labels, trips to the salon, the latest video games, etc, etc. There are times when a reward is nice to recognize an achievement, or something special is warranted for a birthday, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, First Communion, but, as a matter of course, day in day out…
We all know a friend with that bratty child, the ones that will whine incessantly when faced with an answer they don’t like. The one with a parent who instead of sticking to their proverbial “guns”, will throw in the towel and give said whining child whatever it is they want just to stop the wailing. How can we expect that child (as we project into the future) to cope with adversity, with not getting THEIR way when they don’t learn the basic skills as children? Often times, these same children become incapable of dealing with adversity in school, interacting with others (now they have the internet to hide behind so they don’t even have to develop intrapersonal skills), an overbearing boss, or, worse, they expect YOU to care for them throughout their life, because…they expect it (and guess what – look no further than your mirror for the culprit).
Should we really deprive our cherished offspring of life’s often unfair and tough lessons? Is in not better for them to learn from those who love them most of all about how to handle a challenge (even if that challenge is that all their other friends get to do/go/have such and such a thing or place and they cannot). If we take the long view, perhaps it is better not to get them that iPad, new car, trip to Prague and teach them that some things are most rewarding when they are earned. Even though it is difficult to say no when we have the means and it doesn’t change our life in the least to give in. In the end, maybe “no” isn’t such a bad word after all?