Farming Families – Rules and Relationships

After yesterday’s post, and a few other of my posts this month, you might think me a heartless rule making machine.  I assure you that is not the case.  I have been studying child behavior, psychology and learning for years.  It’s a hobby of mine.  I have had a list of goals on my wall/fridge/office board for the past 16 years.  I was given this list when I was a Resident Assistant at NDSU.  If you are a teacher, feel free to use student.  If you are a parent, aunt/uncle, neighbor, 4H leader, etc. feel free to substitute “child” or “children”.

  • Teach students to lead
  • Teach students to serve
  • Teach students to negotiate and resolve conflict
  • Teach students to execute tasks to completion
  • Teach students to function collaboratively
  • Teach students to participate as committed citizens of the community

These have been my goals in whatever capacity I have worked with kids:  teacher, coach, aunt, volunteer, parent.  Of course there are different ways to accomplish these goals.  And parenting strategies have changed over time, the pendulum has swung back and forth between styles.  My views have been most influenced by two sources Love And Logic and Dr. Kevin Leman.  Both of them have similar approaches in child training.  And yes, I use the word “training”.  Children are not born wanting to do these things.  It is a training process that starts at the beginning and never really ends.  Nor do you want it to.  As a parent, you want to be able to continue to guide and support your children, even into adulthood.  Your role changes over time, certainly.

The central theme in both Love and Logic’s and Dr. Leman’s teaching and strategies are “Rules + Relationship = Results”.  You cannot have one without the other and expect results with children.  For some parents, it is very easy to make up long and complicated lists of rules to cover every situation with children.  But if you don’t have the relationship, it is a dictatorship.  For others, it is very easy to be friends with their child, to have that easy relationship.  But without boundaries, your children don’t have security.  In order to really train, teach, guide (whatever you want to call it) children, you have to have both.

I’ll leave the specifics to the experts, but I want to encourage you to evaluate your relationship with children in light of rules and relationship.

Day 27 Homework:  Which area (rules or relationship) is the easiest for you to do?  How can you improve the other?

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