By Domenick J. Maglio PhD., Traditional Realist
Almost every grandparent has experienced the joy of knowing the grandchild’s existence was derived from the incredible journey with their own children. They realize the grandchild is the latest link to the long line of ancestors that miraculously connects that child to his past and his future to his ancestors. The privilege of being granted grandchildren is an overwhelming blessing that draws grandparent and grandchild together in a special relationship of love.
Grandparents are granted the honor and privilege of being called grandpa and grandma without having to do anything besides being there. They have the benefit of appreciating every unique personality trait of their grandchildren without being responsible for the necessary daily training for a child’s healthy development.
Many modern parents, instead of being parents are prematurely playing the role of the friendly grandparent before they have earned this privilege and honor. Almost all of today’s parents want to be liked by their children, which means their hands are tied in reprimanding the child for inappropriate behavior. They may be unaware but they are abdicating their parental responsibility because they are unwilling to lose the preferred status of “my child likes me and wants to tell me everything.” This sentiment weakens the parent’s strength and resolve to teach the difference between right and wrong.
When a child states “my parent is my BFF, (my best friend forever), it should be seen as an indictment of the parent’s unwillingness to function as a parent and willingness to be the child’s cheerleader. Parents need to set limits by frequently using the taboo word “no.” Instead they are indulging and appeasing the child to gain his favor.
A child’s mother and father are the only two people in the world whose intimacy created this child. Parents are biologically positioned to possess the instincts to carry them through the crises that occur in the maturation of a youngster. However, the significance of the sexual act has been minimized to a casual event by our current permissive culture. This has made it easier for parents to disregard their spiritual duty and enter into a non-committed relationship. These immature young adults do not have the emotional or moral strength to enter into a committed relationship instead they want to remain perennial teenagers.
A man and a woman who conceive a child are bound morally by the birth of an offspring to assist her in becoming a good and contributing member to her family and community. It is much easier to accomplish this task in a sanctioned relationship rather than by two disconnected people trying to win the allegiance of the child.
In our modern culture too many parents feel that as long as they are good materialistic providers and are liked by the child they are assured of a successful future involvement with the child. Most are learning the hard way that this is not true. Too many children are failing to thrive because parents did not teach them morals, common sense, delayed gratification, appreciation and a host of other moral values. They should realize that if they prepare the child well, facing the future will make both the child and parent’s life easier and if they do not, the reverse is equally true.
America needs more parents who are willing to pay the price of being an adult with their children rather than today’s parents who lower themselves to the level of their child. These BFF parents have a high probability of being given a second chance at parenting when their unprepared child relinquishes her responsibility of raising the grandchildren to them.
The philosophy of being the child’s friend is not paying dividends. Fifty percent of college graduates are returning home after college. There has been a sharp increase in mental illness such as depression and anxiety on college campuses. One out of every four students is using psychiatric drugs. Over fifty percent of our college graduates cannot find work, are underemployed or are not willing to start a job at the bottom rung. Our children are unprepared and too soft to face the harsh reality of becoming an adult.
Children need to be taught many more values and basic skills than being a good self- promoter and consumer to face the challenges of adulthood. Many modern parents want to believe that their child can receive emotional and social training in our public schools. Even if our schools were doing an effective job teaching academics to our children, which they are not, teachers do not have sufficient power, time and personal knowledge of the child to be a parent surrogate.
Modern parents have to be honest with themselves about attempting to rush though the stages of the life cycle to be free from parental responsibilities. Providing the child with instant gratification will prompt most children to say, “I love you.” Parents do this to get the momentary reward of being liked by their child. This self-serving and hollow response is very different than when a child matures into an adult starting to express gratitude and love for his parents for pushing him to be the best he can be. Only the child who has matured into an adult will comprehend that nagging and demanding were essential in making him what he is today.
Parents being parents may or may not receive their delayed just rewards but those with integrity know they have given the child the strength and courage to be a person of excellence.
The success of most people’s lives can be partially traced to the training they received as a child. The best and most notable lessons taught by one’s parents usually do not leave the child with warm and fuzzy feelings. These experiences often ended with strong consequences that at the time did not conjure up a picture of parents being their BFF.
Dr. Maglio is an author and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at www.drmaglio.com.