Comment this Week

Thursday, on our post about a news item on rearing children, we got this memorable comment from “Mickey,” a pediatrician:

I am the father of 6 children that are aged 13-22.5 years. I am also a practicing pediatrician in the Midwest. My wife and I have home-educated our children all the way through their “formal education” years until they have reached college age. I guess I am about as conservative as you can get both from a scriptural and social perspective, although I would consider myself “generous” in my orthodoxy.

I have always approached the education of parents with a few perspectives in mind:

You cannot spoil a child during the first year of life. They are completely dependent on their parents for everything. The warning I give parents with the approach is that adolescence starts at 12 months not 12 years.

After the first year of life parents need to help them learn they are not God, like they think they are. I submit this is an application of the greatest commandment. The second principle they must learn is they are to be responsible for their actions, an application of the second greatest commandment. I have challenged parents to find ways to apply these two commandments in every aspect of parenting for the last twenty years.

There are three corollaries to these principles. First, remember that we parents are not gods either, so admit to your mistakes to your children when they are old enough understand your mistakes. Second, during the very earlier years of their training, when having a battle of wills with them, WIN; and when you cannot win make them believe that you won. Finally when training children, you only have 18-21 years to train them for the following sixty years of their lives. Be their parent these early years, be their friend later.

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  • cw

    Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve read something with which I’ve agreed so completely! Thanks for the comment.

  • allthecommonthings

    My favorite part of this was “and when you cannot win make them believe that you won.”

  • Scott Gay

    A wonderful application of the Jesus Creed, and succinct.

  • DRT

    Not to trash my parents, but that was a different generation, I remember after making my first confession in the second grade realizing that my parents also went to confession, and that I could not understand why they would ….

  • I think a parent apologizing to a child is such a teachable moment for both in the relationship.

  • As a parent, I almost totally agree with this comment, except I have one quibble with the last one. My children are 29, 27, 25 and soon-to-be 23. Now more than ever, they need me to be their Dad. Friend? Yes, very friendly and supportive (i.e. not controlling). But always Dad.

  • Mickey

    Scot, thanks for posting this again.

    Thanks to all of you for your words of encouragement.

    Stephen Rakin, your are correct. Always Dad, but a different for my role for my adult children. (When I first formulated these thoughts my oldest was 1 or 2 years old.)
    I was attempting to communicate the way the role changes. In my experience, parents of young children are often more concerned about their children liking them; they are less concerned about preparing them for adulthood.

  • metanoia

    Thank you Dr. Mickey. In a parent/child relationship someone has to be the parent. And if you created the little guy, you have been entrusted with the responsibility of being the parent. As my father used to say whenever I complained about the rigors of fatherhood, “You wanted to be a parent? Well act like one.” P.S. I didn’t complain often in the presence of that sympathetic soul. 🙂