Do you remember The Seven Deadly Sins? I do. They are pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. I was first introduced to them by my grandmother. If memory serves me correctly, that first introduction preceded my grandmother’s attempt to get me to behave.
I know that this going to come as a surprise to some of you but I wasn’t the “well behaved, do what you’re told to do because I said so” type of child. Shocking, I know! Now don’t misunderstand, I wasn’t the child from hell but I was Gary Indiana’s own mini Socrates. And like Socrates, question everything I did.
I’m fairly certain that my parents, thought that I had been spawned by some extraterrestrial mishap. Their thinking must have been that somehow I had been switched with their real baby during delivery and that the singular purpose for my existence was so that I could work their last nerves with a never-ending array of questions.
WHY? BECAUSE I SAID SO
Asking “why” was my retort to practically every parental request and demand. I didn’t ask “why” just once either. The first “why” was just the precursor to an infinite number of subsequent “whys”.
Most adults in my life tried to squelch my inquisitiveness by uttering the oft used quote out of Bad Parenting 101 – “because I said so”. Ironically, this type of behavior persists among most of the adults I meet daily – preferring to make statements and express beliefs that they are incapable of validating. But I digress!
What a waste of time and energy this parenting tactic turned out to be. My response to “because I said so” was no different than the comeback I provided for any of the other less than detailed answers adults frequently offered. My response was always “why?”
PLAYING THE GOD CARD
In an attempt to silence the “whys”, my grandmother employed a different tactic. My grandmother, who was the faith foundation of our family, was the first adult to try to coax me into doing what she wanted me to do by playing the God card. If you were raised in a religious household, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Trying to scare children into the desired behavior was common practice amongst adults when I was a child. Often times, scaring children through the fear of God’s punishment was the modus operandi of the day. Hence, my introduction to the Seven Deadly sins.
NO THANKS I PASS
Not only is this a parenting methodology fraught with peril but employing this tactic is sheer and utter nonsense. So I decided long before my son was born that I would not parent using the fear of God as a tool to make my child behave or as a weapon to silence my child. I believed then as I continue to do today that raising children to fear asking questions – for any reasons religious or otherwise – is the paradoxical slippery slope of all paradoxical slippery slopes.
Questioning is the key to critical thinking and personal expression. Fear is the converse of confidence and social growth. The two combined – unthinking and fear – unintentionally create the paradoxical slippery slope for many well-intentioned parents.
You need only look at the sociopolitical status of this country to see the unfortunate end result of the paradoxical slippery slope. It is undeniable that we now live in a nation mostly comprised of scared citizens who are unprepared to think critically.
What’s worse is that we are raising children who unconsciously eschew an authentic life and true intellectual independence. Moreover, we are preparing children who in mass are on the path that leads to collective intellectual submission and socioeconomic imprisonment.
GRANDMA MEANT WELL
Raising children who fear making mistakes stagnates the opportunities for personal growth that can only occur from trial and error. Raising children who won’t ask questions produces a nation of future citizens who will soon find themselves included in the growing number of miseducated sleepwalkers roaming this country from sea to shining sea. Absent inquisitive and fearless children, larger segments of society will continue to be victimized by a progressively decaying socioeconomic infrastructure.
I’m absolutely positive that my grandmother’s intentions were good. I don’t for one second imagine the aforementioned societal decline is what my grandmother expected when she was apprising me of the Seven Deadly Sins. Like most family members, I know that she only wanted the best for me.
THE SEVEN DEADLY ERRORS
Yet as much as I loved my grandmother and the other “God-fearing” adults who helped raise me, I unequivocally rebuff the idea of using the fear of God as a parenting tool. This is just one man’s opinion but I believe to do so is just wrong.
If you are a fan of this old school parenting methodology, I’d like to encourage to cease and desist immediately. Instead of raising children the way that so many of my generation were raised, fearful and submissive – fretting a great deal of the time over the Seven Deadly sins – I’d like you to consider an alternative.
I believe that parents can help their children more than they ever imagined if they acquainted themselves with the Seven Deadly Parenting Errors. Rather than obsessing over whether your child knows The Seven Deadly Sins, the following is a list of seven things parents should avoid at all costs.
- Fallen and Can’t Get Up – Falling and not being able to get up is terrible for the adult in the Life Alert commercial. Falling and not being able to get up is even worse for a child. Adults can call Life Alert but who can children call when they have fallen? Make sure you are not only there to pick your child up when they fall but don’t skip the opportunity to train your child to be expertly proficient in the application of the Japanese proverb – “Fall seven times and stand up eight”.
- Struggle and Quit –Frederick Douglass believed that struggle equals progress. Not only was Mr. Douglass correct but it would also be correct to state that struggle breeds progress. Equip your child with the tools and techniques to denounce the idea that the sky is falling every time it rains. Teach them that struggle, like rain, is a necessity that no one hoping to have a bountiful harvest can ever do without.
- Focus On the Outcome and Not the Process – It’s no surprise that today’s children perhaps more than any previous generation are “right now” outcome driven. We exist in a world where many of our wants are fulfilled instantly. Yet the truth remains that no matter how fast food can be prepared or information can be shared, those things weren’t possible without a time and energy elongated research and development process. Thus, it is important to raise children who understand that the key to a happy life begins with being able to focus on the fact that you aren’t in control of much especially the outcome. Give your child the gift of continuous process orientation rather than curse of immediate outcome persistence.
- Lose Sight That You Are Not Alone – The first response many people have when confronted with trouble is to lament how we are the only ones going through difficult times. This is a false mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional narrative. The truth is that whatever we are experiencing has been experienced by someone else perhaps a thousand times worse. Preparing a child for troubles includes making them aware of others who have experienced difficulties. If your children have any hope of seeing it through, they will need you to share – on a continuous basis – the names, faces, and experiences of those who have overcome the daunting challenges they are experiencing.
- Speak into Existence Things You Never Want to See Occur – You’ve undoubtedly heard it repeated that “as a man thinketh so is he”. Why then do so many parents not only entertain negative thoughts about their children but – by speaking them – elect to bring those adverse thoughts into existence? Why would any parent ever make statements about their children that are counterproductive to the life they would hope for their child? I’m confounded by both questions but here is what I do know. Parents who want their child to be empowered to believe in themselves and to believe that all things are possible had better resist the temptation of making negative, demise laden statements about their children. A final word to the wise on this matter. Children typically live up to our expectations. If we speak of only doubt and disappointment, we should never be surprised if our child appears unmotivated and headed in the wrong direction.
- Say Words That Create Immortal Wounds – At the very top of the worse things parents can do, speaking out of anger and uttering hateful or repulsive words is at the top of the list. Words are like daggers to the heart and once the dagger has been plunged in the heart there is no reversing the action. Try as you may, the effect of the incident is irreversible. You can pull the dagger out of the heart but evidence of the near fatal wound remains forever even if the heart’s wound is stitched exquisitely. So if you truly care about your child, never speak those words that have the power and have but one intended purpose – to cause a fatal wound.
- Waist Time On Yesterday or Tomorrow – Procrastination and angst are both useless. Worrying about a day yet to come is as inconsequential as obsessing over the day that has already past. Children are more likely to live in and embrace the moment when their parents live in and embrace the moment. Commit each day to illustrating for your child the importance of living in and embracing each moment. Should you need reminding, this very moment is the only moment that you can influence – so live in this moment, rejoice over this moment, and love those that share your space and time to the max.
Are you committing any of the Seven Deadly Parenting Errors? Are you raising children that are fearless and inquisitive or scared and gullible? Will your children be prepared to change the world or will they rely on others to do it for them?