Most of my friends think I am a strict mother. And their assessment is probably correct. However, I don't think I'm harsh (mainly because I love having fun). But I do believe children are best served when they are held to high standards of behavior and most of all, taught the invaluable life-skill of self-control. My children go to bed early, wake up early, sit down for dinner every night (and don't leave the table until they are excused), speak respectfully, do daily chores and are required to put forth their best effort every day. We make it a priority to arrive on time, ready to work. And work hard.
I guess you could say we live a structured, disciplined life and that one of our core family values is self-control. Yes, there is room for flexibility and changes. But for the most part, our family achieves optimal functionality when we stick to a daily schedule.
I'll be honest and say I've never understood the whole "Parent as Friend" thing--at least, not while they're small. Yes, we have wonderful conversations and family time together, but I see my primary role as teacher, disciplinarian, guide. I'm not my kids' buddy-buddy.
For me, it's far more important to teach my children how to manage their time, work, eating habits and personal discipline than it is to be their peer. I'm old-fashioned that way.
I suppose this is why I was excited to read a new research study that shows children who exhibited high levels of self-control as youngsters were far more likely to be healthier, wealthier and happier as grown-ups. In fact, the results are stunning. According to TIME magazine,
Kids who scored low on such measures — for instance, becoming easily frustrated, lacking persistence in reaching goals or performing tasks, or having difficulty waiting their turn in line — were roughly three times more likely to wind up as poor, addicted, single parents or to have multiple health problems as adults, compared with children who behaved more conscientiously as early as age 3.
What was so interesting about this study was that a child's success later in life was not entirely predicated upon ideal childhood circumstances. In other words, a child from a poor family still had a high chance of achieving success if he/she learned and practiced self-control beginning early in life.
I think sometimes we, as mothers, don't like to talk about the best way to parent. I totally get this. These conversations usually devolve into ugly Mommy-war debates and the reality is, there are many effective ways to raise kids.
But at the end of the day, I still see the wisdom in teaching our children the old-fashioned values of hard work, self-control and persistence.
Even if that makes me look like a Strict Mother.
What do you think? Is self-control important? Do you agree/disagree with the Parent As Friend role? What are some of your family's core values?