By Donna Rayburn
After finishing the book, Family Building by John Rosemond, I spent time pondering the first of his five principles. In my September column, I described how the husband-wife relationship trumps the parent-child relationship.
After reflecting on his second and third principles, I realized that they are related. These two principles are “Where discipline is concerned, it’s about communication, not consequences and it’s about respecting others, not self-esteem.”
Rosemond introduces these two related principles with Matthew 5:37. That passage says, “Simply let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Clear messages to your children, spouses, relatives, friends or professional relationships create respect.
Rosemond describes discipline in three words: communication, consequences and consistency. Most of us profess consistency as the most important of the three but again, Rosemond states that communication is the most critical attribute of discipline. Just as any great leader is praised for his ability to motivate people, a parent who clearly communicates will motivate children to want to do what they are supposed to do.
I found one situation described in the book particularly helpful because I dread the argument with my children that comes when I say no. Rosemond says that if your child does not like a decision you have made and demands an explanation and if you choose to provide an explanation, you should give your explanation in less than 10 words. If your child tells you that your explanation is dumb, you should agree with her and acknowledge that when you were that age, you would have thought the same thing. Then walk away. If your child comes after you, simply tell them that you would have badgered your mother too and that your mother wouldn’t have changed her mind either. This conversation will drive your child crazy and that’s better than letting it drive you crazy.
As our children become teens and we find we can relate to events happening in their lives, it may be easy to become a friend to our teenager instead of the leader they need us to be. If we allow friendship to take control, we lose our leadership and our child’s respect. We need to model appropriate self-control and the process of making good decisions.