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Knowing When to Say Something and When Not to

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 22 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Parent Communication Child Partner

Part of being a good parent (and a good partner!) comes from knowing when to speak up and when to keep quiet. No one wants to live in a battleground, but kids need to understand the rules and should be expected to abide by them. Prioritising issues is key, while parents do need to hold their ground at times, they also need to know when to let go, allowing their children some leeway on issues that are simply not worth creating hard feelings.

Setting Family Priorities

Each family is unique and as such, parents must decide for themselves how to set standards for their children that are in line with their social, moral, and behavioural expectations. Ideally, parents and stepparents strive for good communication, both between themselves and with their kids, making it clear to everyone what is expected of them.

Unfortunately, parents do not always see eye to eye on which issues demand the most attention, but it is important that they decide together how to handle these differences of opinion so that they can provide a united front to the children. Kids are no fools and if they sense that their parents are in disagreement about how they are to conduct themselves, they are likely to play one parents against the other and go to alternating parents when they are seeking permissions so that they can get the answers that they want.

As with most things, compromise is an essential part of both parenting and marriage. Partners must find a way to blend their parenting goals if they expect to be successful in garnering the cooperation of their children.

The Importance of Providing Guidance to Young Children

Many parents allow their small children to run a bit wild, feeling that the kids are too young to be expected to behave. The problem with this type of attitude is that small children don’t stay small for very long, and the lessons they learn about obedience and restraint stay with them as they grow.

While it is unreasonable to expect toddlers and pre-school aged children to exert consistent control of their emotions and behaviours, they do need to learn that disobedience has consequences and that Mum and Dad are to be minded. If the basics are in place early in childhood, the years that follow will be easier for both generations.

The Tumultuous Teen Years

Many parents would agree that teens are second only to toddlers when it comes to testing their limits and giving their parents cause to grow gray hair. Adolescence is a time of enormous growth and part of a teenager’s job is to exert their independence and ready themselves to be a part of the adult world. By their very nature, teens can be disagreeable, opinionated, and rather obstinate, all traits that be hard for parents to understand and accept.

Experienced parents often find that the more they object to their teenagers’ choices, however, the more determined the children become to get their way, so parents and stepparents are wise to allow their teens some latitude about the least important issues, such as style and music, while holding a hard line about the things that mean the most. In the end, it hardly matters if teens choose to dye their hair some bizarre colour or wear their trousers three sizes too large; it is far more important that they have their priorities in order when it comes to academics, decency, respect, and responsibility.

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