I’d like to share with you the following advice for parents written on behalf of the kids, as printed in my son’s school newsletter this week.
Youth’s Code for Parents
- Keep cool. Don’t lose your temper in the crunch. Keep the lid on when things go wrong. Kids need the reassurance that comes from controlled responses.
- Don’t get strung out from too much booze or too many pills. When we see our parents reaching for these crutches, we get the idea that nobody goes out there alone, that it’s perfectly okay to go for a bottle or a capsule when things get heavy. Remember, your children are great imitators. And we lose respect for parents who tell us to behave one way while they are behaving another way.
- Bug us a little. Be strict and consistent in dishing out discipline. Show us who’s who. It gives us a feeling of security to know we’ve got some strong supports under us.
- Don’t blow your class. Keep the dignity of parenthood. Stay on that pedestal. Your children have put you there because they need someone to look up to. Don’t try to dress, dance or talk like your kids. You embarrass us and you look ridiculous.
- Light a candle. Show us the way. Tell us God is not dead, or sleeping, or on vacation. We need to believe in something stronger than ourselves.
- Scare the hell out of us. If you catch us lying, stealing, or being cruel, get tough. Let us know why what we did was wrong. Impress on us the importance of not repeating such behaviour. When we need punishment dish it out. But let us know you still love us, even though we have let you down. It’ll make us think twice before we make the same move again.
- Call our bluff. Make it clear that you mean what you say. Don’t be wishy-washy. Don’t compromise. And don’t be intimidated by our threats to drop out of school or leave home. Stand firm. If you collapse, we will know we beat you down and we will not be happy about the "victory". Kids don’t want everything they ask for.
- Be honest with us. Tell the truth no matter what. And be straight-arrow about it. Lukewarm answers make us uneasy. We can smell uncertainty a mile away. This means being generous with praise. If you give us kids a few compliments once in a while we will be able to accept criticism more readily. We want you to tell it like it is.