Is the following statement true or false? It is often the case that children like what is not good for them and do not like what is good for them.
True, right? Right!
The question then becomes, are you trying to be liked by your child?
Other forms of the same question are … Does it bother you when your child acts like he doesn’t like you? When your child acts like he’s doesn’t care for you, do you try to correct the situation? Do you desire, in your heart of hearts, to be seen by your child as a friend?
If you answered “yes” to those questions, then you have proven beyond a shadow of doubt that you are not of sound mind. In this case, a sound mind is defined as not caring one way or the other whether your child likes you at any given moment in time, or not.
What an odd concept, that being an adult who wants to be liked by a child. Children are driven by their senses. A child will choose a sugar-laden, artificially purple-orange-colored junk drink over pure, refreshing water, for example. A child will choose sugar- and carbo-saturated junk food over green food that grew in unadulterated soil. What an odd concept, that being an adult who wants to be liked by a child.
What, pray tell, does one say to such a person, given that he or she has unequivocally evidenced no evidence of a sound mind?
I suggest, “Good luck with that.”
Children are quick to sense when an adult wants to be liked by them. They may lack the ability to express their understanding, but keep in mind that children are intuitively brilliant. When a child senses that an adult wants to be liked, the child begins to spiral — some children more rapidly than others — out of control.
The child senses, correctly, that someone who wants to be liked is incapable of effectively correcting his behavior. The adult in question is acting like he is the child’s peer, and peers cannot effectively discipline one another. The successful discipline of a child requires that the adult act like, well, an adult.
Acting like an adult involves establishing an emotional and physical boundary between yourself and your child. You can be friendly, but you can’t be a friend. You are available, but you are not at the child’s beck-and-call. The child is not the center of your world. Quite the opposite: YOU are the center of HIS world.
You are a role model of what it means to be an adult. Your primary relationships are with other adults, beginning with your spouse. You are, from your child’s point of view, an interesting person who does lots of things with other interesting people your own age.
You don’t allow your child’s behavior to trigger and drive your emotions. If you often say things like, “My child drives me crazy sometimes,” then you are one of those child-driven people and I’m sorry to have to tell you, but the problem is not your child.
To be an effective boss, you first must be an impeccable boss of yourself. And make no mistake, your child needs a boss, not a thirty- or forty-something year-old friend.
[Family psychologist John Rosemond: johnrosemond.com, parentguru.com. Copyright 2022, John K. Rosemond]