Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tales From The Crypt: How to Cripple Your Children

Okay, so backtracking a bit.... "Tales From The Crypt" is a heading I am going to use when referring to any pointed, direct, or controversial topics that need to be addressed. In that spirit, the first edition of "Tales From The Crypt" is called....How To Cripple Your Children.

The short answer is to do what everybody else tells you that you should. The long answer takes, well- longer, and addresses some of the pursuits we as a society have been chasing over the last few decades. Pursuits that are just now starting to cause cracks in our "perfect pop culture world" that need to be looked at, understood, and corrected. Hopefully the title of this blog post has a few people offended and saying "not me, I'm a great parent because I care and who is this guy to tell me I am crippling my kids?". If that is your reaction thus far, or you would like to learn how to avoid setting your children up for failure... mission accomplished. Read on.

Children (of all ages) are crippled all over the world, and by crippled I am referring to the emotional sense. We as a society have become crippled in our ability to cope with stress, think independently, and lead meaningful and happy lives. This doesn't mean everyone is miserable- it means we are crippled to some degree. The media tells us what to eat, wear, drive, buy, and do. What songs to listen to, what political views to take, and what opinions to have on what world events we are allowed to know about. That is one great way to cripple your children later in life... Allow them to do everything their friends do which is of course everything corporate North America tells them is cool to do.

Children (let's change that to everyone on this planet) needs at least some structure and discipline. Kids need discipline about as much as they hate getting it. It's called tough love and it is every bit as important as telling your children you love them. Parenting (or coaching or managing people for that matter) is not a popularity contest. It is about leading a young mind and spirit to the best of your capabilities using all available resources; while at the same time not stymying the learning process for your child that you went through. This brings us to another few ways parents can hope to cripple their children (if they are so inclined). First is avoiding the tough conversations, avoiding discipline, basically, if we are on swimupstream, let's say- avoiding rocking the boat.

The boat may be headed in the right direction. It still needs to be rocked once in a while to make sure the captain isn't asleep at the wheel. This means- if you can't discipline your child, and if you cannot be unpopular to be correct, you are crippling your child and setting a precedent that your kid can do whatever he or she wants. Spoiled brats who have everything... Huge cripples.

Next, over-parenting. Just because you had tough times, doesn't mean your kids don't have to. The bad break ups, the school yard fight, the D you got in math, it has all helped to shape you into the responsible adult I'm sure you are. So why regret any experience; mistake or planned? If you follow that logic, why remove experience; one of the best teaching tools we have, from your child? Let your kid skin their knee, let them get dirty. Right now the most common war wounds from the childhood battleground are callouses on thumbs from XBOX; and it is killing the imagination, people skills, and creativity in the workforce.

Finally (in this post; there are probably 10,000 more ways to cripple your kid, but I just wanted to share the best methods I know so you can start ruining their lives right away)... Lead by example. If you keep junk food in the house, your kids will eat junk food. If you are lazy, blah blah blah. You can connect the dots here. The tough lesson on leadership here is looking in the mirror without kid gloves. After all, that is what parenting is: loving leadership. If you see your child is misbehaving, or worse yet, not living life to the fullest, look at your self and ask where they got the know how to act this way.

Nobody's perfect, but just remember this one irrefutable fact...You pass on more to your children than height, eye and hair color, and skin tone. You pass on your fears, bias', behaviors, misbehaviors, and excuses for doing/ not doing. Whatever you justify to your spouse to avoid swimming upstream and doing the right thing; you pass on to your kids. Or you pass on leverage. Empowerment. Freedom.

You could pass on, through your lessons and your example, the inspiration to challenge the system and question why and challenge themselves and their friends and lead productive, healthy, happy lives. Wake up tomorrow and start crippling, or start empowering. But do either one full speed.

Better to be good at being a bad parent so child services can find a better home than to sludge through parenting and life and create another drone who watches the clock in their blah work day pass by as they watch their own life pass by. You wouldn't actively make the above choice for you kids, so 1 more time than yesterday actively lead your kids in the right direction, and start with yourself.

Hopefully, there's a little kid still left in all of us that hasn't been crippled too badly, and if we liberate that spirit, we change the world. One happy home at a time.

Start swimming upstream!

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