The key to successful parenting is personal accountability. All the power we have to affect change comes from our ability to be self-critical by assessing the degree of influence we have over circumstances to discover practical solutions. A parent can make the mistake of playing the victim by blaming extra-parental influences for a lack of success in raising a child, but that’s a waste of time. We cannot control and censor EVERY experience that a child has throughout the course of their life, but we CAN try to understand exactly what things we do have control over, and that requires wisdom!
It is not enough to set standards and expectations for your child. You must be a living, breathing example of the virtues you seek to instill. Some parents expect the world of their children, but they never stop to think about how their own lifestyle may contradict their speech. If your actions do not reflect what you claim to be true, then your words lose value. A lack of wisdom in this regard results in a rebellious child who will challenge your authority by questioning your own regard for the standards you have held them to. Children don’t rebel because it is their nature, but because parents have demonstrated, through their actions, that the authority they claim to have is non-existent by virtue of their inability to reflect the principles they preach. When a person cannot meet their own standards of conduct, then what basis do they have to impose those standards on others? A parent must be a LEADER!
Another principle of successful parenting is balancing domestic life. The home is not just a shelter from the harsh elements. The home is a place of comfort, familiarity, and safety. It is a place we can go to escape the fear and prejudice of the world. Knowing this, it is the responsibility of a parent to ensure that the home is a refuge where their child can come to feel secure and accepted. When the world misunderstands them and their friends let them down, you will be HOME to uplift their spirit.
Domestic disputes between parents or any other adults should NEVER take place where a child can see or hear. A child’s life should be simple. The burden of complication is to be assumed by parents and caretakers who are equipped with the knowledge and wisdom to manage the complexities of life. A child’s primary source of strength is the strength of their parents. They need to know that their parents are competent in order to feel secure. The absence of this security will cause a child to internalize parental stress, producing fear and uncertainty. We must allow children to be children and only expose them to as much conflict as is spiritually necessary to develop character and acquire wisdom. Things like interparental conflict and domestic violence can cripple a child’s sanity.
We must do everything we can to raise HEALTHY and strong children! It’s hard to accept, but the epidemic of anxiety is spreading to younger generations each year. According to statistics, almost 30% of adolescents are affected by anxiety. Some parents believe that the solution is giving their child a pill. But medication can make anxiety worse in the long run by encouraging dependency and impairing the mental faculties which are necessary to combat anxiety, namely mental acuity.
At the age of 18, I was assigned to a doctor to treat my anxiety. She told me that I had an “overactive” mind and prescribed me medication. At the time, I believed that the pills would work, but now I understand that this idea of an “overactive mind” as the cause of my anxiety was the result of a misunderstanding on her part because she showed no real concern for the improvement of my health. The pills had a mental sedative effect which did quell my anxiety, but only insofar as it made me numb and docile. In other words, it treated my condition by crippling my capacity to think critically. For this reason, I could not do all the things that I excelled at, like reading, writing, and martial arts. The drugs essentially turned me into a zombie, and I knew that this could not be the solution to my problem.
People don’t just become anxious out of the blue. Anxiety can only arise after the complete erosion of natural defense mechanisms which serve to protect against stress and mental trauma. There are very specific triggers which cause anxiety attacks, and everyone has a different reason for being anxious. Some people experience anxiety because of an unnatural desire to be in control of everything. When situations arise that they do not have control over, they become fearful and restless. This kind of person may harbor an arrogance that prevents them from accepting their natural limitations, turning their hubris into dread. Others suffer from anxiety due to a fear of peer judgement, which can spring from either a lack of power over themselves or a lack in understanding of who they are. When you criticize yourself before others have a chance to criticize you, then you take away their power to shame and ridicule. And when a person is aware of their own identity and purpose, then they take away the power of others to define them.
I discovered that the cause of my anxiety was a constant refusal to live up to the standards I set for myself. I had special gifts and talents that I could use to benefit the people I loved, but due to laziness and lack of faith, I could not see my own value. Running from the truth caused me to delude myself with excessive rationalization, resulting in confusion, insecurity, and even more fear. Only a genuine knowledge of self could enable me to examine my situation from the outside and work out a solution.
So you see, the solution to anxiety is an idiosyncratic one. Identifying the cause of anxiety requires keen discernment, supported by a personal relationship to the one in need of help.
For this reason, it is important for parents to build trust with their children because in doing so, they will be more willing to share secrets about their life. Being too strict and unforgiving will cause a child to fear you, and this fear will cause them to lie as a means of avoiding harsh punishment. Teach your children the value of honesty by showing them mercy for telling the truth, and they will be more likely to tell the truth in the future. A foundation of trust will give a child the confidence to share what’s on their mind, allowing you to catch the warning signs of mental disorders and take action to prevent the worsening of symptoms. You are your child’s first therapist.
THE VALUE OF CONFLICT
If we want our children to be strong, then we have to understand the value of conflict! There are two kinds of conflict. Sterile Conflict and Fertile Conflict. Sterile Conflict is any conflict that is recurring as consequence of an inability or unwillingness to apply a solution. Fertile Conflict is any conflict to which knowledge is applied for the purpose of securing future victory. Some people only experience sterile conflict because they are too afraid or too lazy to apply a solution. They tend to avoid conflict all together because they are comfortable in their inadequacies and don’t want to progress. Then there are those who experience fertile conflict because they see struggle as an opportunity for growth and they use it to make themselves stronger. Some parents coddle their children too much and force them to live in a bubble apart from the raw experience of life and all its supernatural trials. For this reason, their children never experience fertile conflict and grow up to be fragile, insecure adults who depend on the influence and estate of their parents. Understand that for your child to mature properly, they must have some exposure to discomfort for the purpose of spiritual edification. Depriving a child of purposeful experiences can result in them seeking to fill that void and satisfy their boredom with things like video games and social media, which often develop into an addiction.
Our children depend on us to make decisions for them. Living in ignorance and fragility is not an option. We must be strong and wise enough to equip our children with the tools they need to endure the trials of a modern world. Let’s teach them how to LIVE TRIUMPHANTLY!