Establishing Secure Connections

The problem of unself disciplined parents has been around a long time. The huge college admissions scandal which has snared Hollywood is nothing new. These parents are perfect examples of unself disciplined role models for their kids.

The parent who says , do not as I do, but as I say do, this parent really confuses a child. Those double messages are very difficult for a kid to decipher. Parents argue in front of their kids without dignity or restraint, and then get a call from school when little Johnny gives little Billy a shiner , the parents are mortified. They don’t understand. Johnny saw dad disrespect mother, and he mimicked this same behavior at school. Apples don’t fall far.

Often times parents own lives are chaotic and messy, and their need to order their own kids lives is again, very confusing for a kid. Kids look up to their parents as Gods, and they cannot integrate that when our parents do something, we are not to do it also. When dad is not able to accept his sons imperfections, and he is always pointing the finger at coaches, teachers, principles as the reason his son is failing, then the son grows up to not take responsibility for his own behavior. His dad taught him he never had to, and so he didn’t.

When our kids live with a dignified and self disciplined parent, then they can connect with establishing this same order in their own lives. Adequate discipline takes time. Our kids crave it. It helps them feel safe and cared for. When we are too busy to observe our kids, and know when they need our guidance and discipline, kids pick up on this and feel devalued. Our kids are the beneficiaries when we take time to correct and listen to them, helping them make behavioral adjustments here and there.

When our self-worth is so wrapped up in our kids that we cannot let them fail, then we damage them far more than we can know. Our own wounds , leave them broken. Kids are not deceived by our empty words of praise. They know when they deserve accolades and when they do not. Kids know they are valued and they feel this value deep within themselves. This feeling of being valuable for a kid is equal to mental health. It is the foundation of self-discipline.

We know that kids who grow up feeling really valued , they cannot be destroyed by the suffering of the world. They know self-care and they practice it. They know self-worth and they display it. They understand delayed gratification. They don’t mind struggling to achieve a goal . In fact, they covet this challenge.

We know that kids with secure connections with themselves , and also a deep sense of internal security, have mastered delayed gratification as adults. When parents have not modeled this for children, it is possible they can learn it elsewhere, but very difficult. It can be a lifetime struggle for a child into adulthood and on and on.

We all know how adults with no self-discipline look, and how kids who can’t delay gratification look as adults. They are missing the capacity to solve problems . They fix things, rather than earn them. These parents rob their kids of the greatest gift of all. The gift of self discipline and delayed gratification. The gift of failing and then learning how to recover, and move on in a healthy way. The gift of establishing secure connections with self and others.