A few weeks ago I attended the type of event none of us wants to witness:
the funeral of an eight-year-old boy. He was killed in a car accident while his
mother was driving.
The mom and the other children were
battered in the accident, but they survived because they were wearing
their seatbelts. The boy who died was not wearing his; he had told his mother
that he didnít want to. She had dropped the issue to avoid an argument. Now
she and the entire family are paying the heavy price.
A parentís scope is significantly wider than that of a childís. By
virtue of their having lived longer, parents have a greater sense of cause and
effect. Too many times, however, they are willing to abdicate their
responsibility of enforcing their wisdom in order to avoid the tantrum, the
pouting, the foot stomping, and the argument that comes when children are upset
that they did not get their way.
Families have become democratized during the years following World War
II, when the specter of communism became a threat that was taken seriously. It
would be hard to find a people on the face of this earth that expressed greater
loathing of communism and dictatorship than Americans.
But many Americans have taken democracy too far. They have extended it to
their families -- a place where each person has an equal say in all matters,
regardless of their age or breadth of vision.
You, the parents, are older and wiser. It is up to you to set the rules
in all aspects of your childrenís lives. It is also up to you to explain and
enforce those rules, no matter how much your children rail against them.
Your children are looking up to you. They need the security of knowing
that you care enough to stand up to their screaming and rebelling. They need you
at their birthday parties, graduations, weddings, and the births of their
children. They donít need you at their funerals.
This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents.