I was sitting at lunch with my sweet granddaughter who is very prissy and always notices my jewelry, my hair, my outfit, and such. I have long acrylic nails, and three were broken and looked just awful. I held out my hand to show her how badly I needed to get to the nail salon and asked her, “Can you believe Dee Dee’s hand?” My sweet Ava said, “Wow, it is looking old.” Well, that wasn’t what I hoped she would say, but I do love the honesty of children. It is always so refreshing.
Life can rarely be understood in black and white, and there are typically gray areas where discretion is needed. We also sometimes try to sugarcoat our message to avoid offending someone. However, most of us appreciate simple honesty whenever possible. Here are five very honest, straight-forward tips that I hope will help you to parent those you love:
1. Children will become what they see you live out each day. It is pretty difficult to teach your child the value of honesty if he witnesses your dishonesty over insignificant things. If he hears you tell what we like to call ‘white lies,’ don’t be surprised if, as a teenager, he tells you what you want to hear instead of telling you the truth.
2. Children have a way of understanding the overall truth of a matter rather quickly. When tragedy strikes or unpleasant things happen that must be shared with them, it is okay to tell them what happened in an age-appropriate way; but they do not need gory details. They can grasp the overall point, and that is typically all they need. They will ask if they need more. Their main concern will always be, “How does this affect me?” Be sure to include that in any discussion you have with them about events in your family or community.
3. Children can spot division very quickly and will use it to their advantage. Make sure that the adults in the home who are participating in the child’s life are on the same page. If there are differences, iron them out behind closed doors and present a rock-solid, united front to the child.
4. Inconsistency is one of the most critical parenting mistakes. Be certain where you stand on an issue before you take action and then be consistent no matter how the child responds. If you change your position, talk it out with the child and let her know that you decided to make the change. Inconsistent parenting is confusing and, in the end, breeds insecurity in children. Follow through and keep the rules and expectations the same.
5. Don’t apologize for setting fair, consistent, loving limits. Children are not always happy with boundaries, but they need loving limits imposed by a loving parent until they are old enough to self-discipline. Remember that it is imperative to balance these limits with positive acts of kindness, words of affirmation, and time spent doing fun activities.
“It's not only children who grow. Parents do, too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself.” -- Joyce Maynard