I was the last of my parent's children to marry and have children, by a long time. When we all got together my parents thought my children were brats compared to the older grandchildren, so they sent me a book to help. It hurt my feelings at the time, but I got over it and am grateful for them pointing me in the right direction. The book is John Rosemond's Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children (also available here and here) Our children were normal, immature children; their grandparents were old, tired and accustomed to quieter, older, mature grandchildren. Also comparing our children to their own was unfair because there are long spaces between my brothers and I and our youngest sister, while my children came at fairly regular intervals and were all young together. That makes for more noise and excitement.
So what's the six point plan? Here's my brief synopsis:
Point One - The Parent Centered Family
When you think about it, the purpose of family life is to raise independent children who will leave home to form their own families and leave the parents on their own again. If we neglect our spouse we will end up strangers when our children are grown and then what's left? Children orbit around the parents, not the other way around. When children are the center, they can grow up selfish and unable to meet the needs of others.
For single parents he says ". . .you can't successfully supply someone else's 'warehouse' unless your own is fully stocked."
Point Two - The Voice of Authority
Expect your children to obey. My parents told me "Make them mind," and it took me a long time to figure out how. Parenting is tiring, but when done right, in spite of exhaustion, produces wonderful adults. We are not meant to be friends with our children until they become adults. We are meant to teach and train them to become successful in life and lead them, literally by the hand when necessary, to that end.
Point Three - The Roots of Responsibility
Expecting children to work is so vital to their maturity. Responsibility comes before rights, a lesson that too many aren't learning, as evidenced in the infantile obsession with rights in our country today. "Give them opportunities to learn the hard way, which is often the only way possible."
Point Four - The Fruits of Frustration
Part of maturity is being able to deal with whatever life throws at you without having a meltdown. Consistent doses of Vitamin N (the NO word) produces children with strengths such as self-discipline and self-control.
Point Five - Toys and Play: The Right Stuff
"So, how are parents to know whether the toys they are buying their children are good investments? In addition to being safe, a good toy embodies four qualities:
-First, it presents a wide range of creative possibilities.
-Second, it encourages manipulation.
-Third, it's age appropriate
-Fourth, it's durable."
He gives a "10" to Legos, with building sets like Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, and Erector Sets coming in a close second. He advocates art materials, dolls (cuddly ones that don't do everything), stuffed animals and such. He also gives his advice on involving children in organized sports (or not involving as he advises).
Point Six - Television and Children: More than Meets the Eye
He advocates severely limiting screen time (of any kind) for children during the most important developmental time of their lives, up to six years of age. "They are called "formative" because they comprise that period during which the young child is discovering, developing, and strengthening the skills he/she will need to become a creative, competent person.
His final point is to love them enough to do the other six.
These points work! I've seen it in our children and many others who were raised in a similar way. And when adult children express gratitude for being raised in this way, well, that's what we call Parental Paydays. Hope you have many!