There are so many self-help parenting books on the shelves with conflicting ideas. It’s no wonder parents don’t even want to try that route anymore. One under-publicized but well-acclaimed reference titled Children the Challenge (Penguin Books, 1990) by Rudolph Dreikurs, is a foundational, reality-based resource that enables parents to make the right decisions based on rational philosophy. That’s what makes it so viable.
Destination parenting is not just a way to parent. It’s an outlook, a way to live – and parent – easily, effectively and guilt-free.
No One Intends to be a Bad Parent
No one ever intentionally raises children in a way that sets them up to be unsuccessful. Most people, in fact, speculate that they will make excellent parents, believing they know how to do it. Then, somehow, 16 years down the road, the sound of sirens fills the night air and the parent’s confidence flies out the window.
What happened? Who cares. That’s not what’s important. What is important, is today, this hour, this minute, it is time to effect change.
A New Look at the Meaning of Growing Up
The term growing up isn’t necessarily talking about increasing in height. It can mean becoming optimistic, creative, capable, and successful human beings. That doesn’t mean bringing up a generation of egocentrics who are never corrected. It just means allowing children to experience real and immediate, reasonable and loving consequences for whatever they do.
If a youngster rides his bike beyond what is allowed, the bike needs to stay in the garage for the rest of the day and a new effort can be made the next day. That’s enough. Not a month’s punishment where the crime is long since forgotten but the parent’s meanness isn’t. No hand on the hot stove to teach about burners. Kids know when the consequences they receive are fair, and, complaints aside, boundaries help children feel safe and know their parents or caregivers love them enough to teach them important things. That is what creates confident children, not free reign allowing anarchy.
Why is Parenting Called Child “Rearing”?
If parents continue to lead older children from in front, by pulling them towards the parent’s goal, youths will often pull back and get lost trying to find themselves
If they are coached and encourage from the rear, children will see that their parents have faith in them, therefore they must be capable, and they will act on that premise. They will choose a path forward and may even seek out words of wisdom. They may make mistakes, the same mistakes their parents made, but that is their right, just as it was the parent’s will and rite of life at the same age.
It is good and healthy for parents to demonstrate that another’s behavior is not their fault. That way the children take on the responsibility of their actions. If their room is messy, they have to live in the mess. If they leave a mess in the common area of the house and someone doesn’t like it and unconfrontationally throws the things in the garbage, that was a natural consequence being the teacher.
If illicit drugs are found in the house, drugs are illegal and the police must be called so the parent isn’t complicit in a crime. It’s a legal requirement, not a parent being nasty. A further consequence, if there is a no-recreational-drug policy in the home (which there should be), is that the youth will need to find alternative accommodation. Hounding and criticism are mind-numbing and relationship killing. If it doesn’t work, why do it?
Correct With the Future in Mind
Some parents feel it necessary to force children to eat everything that someone else laid out for them even if it is so much it causes the child to feel sick. Teaching a child to put things in his body he doesn’t want imprints a behavior that is concerning when peers are passing around alcohol and drugs.
Destination parenting works in the best way parenting can work. Not perfectly, but most fairly, and most successfully because everything is done with the eventual goal in mind. Most confident adults weren’t belittled as children by the big people they looked up to. Happily successful adults weren’t told as children they were no good and would never make anything of themselves.
Dreikurs suggests that treating a child as if they bear the quality traits the parent wants them to have predisposes the child to behave accordingly. If they are told they are bad, they have that to live up to. Just like adults, children enjoy being respected and listened to, and they will take pride in acting like someone who deserves respect when they know it’s attainable.
Parenting probably is the most difficult of jobs, but it arguably is the most rewarding. By keeping destination principles in mind, rearing children in love with reasonable and fair consequences who are confident and capable is at least a clear path with great potential.