Family decisions should become 'cabinet
decisions' as soon as the children are old enough to understand simple
questions. As in the cabinet, everyone can have a say. Parents should show a
genuine interest in what the children say, but their decision has to be final.
Plan leisure activities. The old cliche about
'families who play together stay together' is true. Joint interests will help
the family through the difficult teenage years and lay the foundations for
later adult friendships.
Be straightforward and honest with your
children. Discuss with them, and in front of them, the situation in the
Balkans, the problems of one-parent families and the 'druggie' households on
the other side of town. Never assume children are too young.
Realism rather than liberalism produces
happy children. Children should be taught to accept other people's frailties
and peculiarities and should learn that it shouldn't make any difference to the
way they are approached. On the other hand, they should also learn that, while
many desires and feelings are understandable and natural, they often have to be
kept in check. Having a realistic, honest appreciation of the motivations of
other people in childhood can be life-saving.
The children of two types of parents are most
likely to appear in the psychiatrist's clinic. The children of both the
over-strict disciplinarian and the over-liberal, youth-worshipping adult may be
in trouble later. Statistics show that if a happy medium can't be reached, it's
better to be over-liberal than over-strict.
While it is almost impossible to avoid
subconsciously putting pressure on children to do well, try and avoid it.
There are types of children-parent
relationships which, difficult as it already may be, make a family situation
even more fraught. The parent-stepchild relationship is supposed to be the most
difficult in the household. Aim for friendship and mutual respect. Unfair as it
is, love usually evades these relationships and if there has been an
expectation of it, there is disappointment on both sides.
The other difficult relationship occurs in
one-parent families. Usually some level or degree of emotional co-dependency
develops between the parent and the child. The child has to be both child and
locum spouse. This burden is too great for many children. They grow up too fast
and appear unusually mature. Unfortunately, the experience stays with them and
they will always thereafter seek to recreate it by finding mates who are
dependent on them. They drift into jobs that utilize or exploit their caring
natures but may not be fully stretching their other abilities.
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