As parents, your child looks to you for everything. How you do things, how you respond to things, how you treat others, your habits good and bad, all are subject to consumption, inspection, and scrutiny by your child. Often our responses in crucial situations dictate how our child’s character will develop down the road. When faced with a situation, do you go with the flow and be the cool parent or stick to your principles?
In some cases, we need to be flexible and adapt. Technology is a prime example of where we can bend and flex to meet our children’s desires and help us keep them safe. A cell phone is a prime example. You may cringe at your child having a phone, but most providers today give you the ability to add GPS tracking to your phones. How cool would it be to know where your child is at all times? You can if you adopt these technologies. They get a phone, you have a means to reach them, and you also know where they are.
In other cases, you need to stand strong. Your child may want to play mature-rated games, they may want to have a later curfew, go to a party that everyone is attending, and so on. This is no time to be the cool parent. Let your instincts guide you, especially you mothers. It will be tough at times. Your child will have many compelling reasons why they should be allowed to go or do these things and peer pressure is often their guiding motivation. They will also be angry with you when they can’t go or do what they’ve asked.
You’ll be tempted to give them a little rope and see how they handle it. In my mind, this is a bad move. Your child also notices how consistent you are in the way that you treat them, and once you introduce inconsistency then it’s very hard to put that back in the box. Every time you are faced with this scenario, your child will remind you of the time that you let them do this before. Stay strong, and stay consistent.
I read a beautiful illustration of this principle in Seth Godin’s “Poke the Box” but I’ll use it differently than he did. In the rushing river is a log wedged into the riverbed. All around it there is constant motion and change, and as things flow by that log in the river the water and turbulence is particularly high around the log, but it never moves. As your child rushes down the flowing river of their life, if things get out of control then you hope that the log is there for them to grab onto. You, acting as their constant, their rock, their log in the river, can be the rescue that they grab onto as they are rushing down that river toward the waterfall. Be your child’s parent. Both you and your child have more than enough friends to get through life without compromising that relationship.