The democratic style of parenting, and I’m not talking about the political party, is not sound parenting. Some things are not up for a vote or discussion. In no way am I advocating abuse or unreasonable behavior we all know everything can become extreme. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. Tonight I am fixing lasagna for dinner. I didn’t consult anyone, I am in charge of that area of our household and so I made a decision. Now, let’s say one of my kids gets upset and decides that tonight they don’t want to eat lasagna. That is totally fine with me. You don’t have to eat lasagna if you don’t want to but I am not making something else to eat. They can make a sandwich, eat leftovers whatever. There is no vote here. Many of you would say that is harsh but honestly, that is life. What do I teach when I coddle a whim and fix a different meal for each person? Yes, sometimes I will ask what everyone would like to eat but not often. I’ve been given a task and I do it well. I know what my family likes and what they don’t and I would never purposefully make something they didn’t like to eat. See it starts with these small, seemingly insignificant processes.
When a boss says that she needs something done and I don’t feel like doing it then if I’ve been trained in a democracy I will simply decide not to do it and let her know I don’t feel this is a task for me and require her to give me something else to do. If I do that often enough, I will get fired. If I get fired I will be the victim but only in my mind, because I was taught that people move for me, I don’t move for people. See no boundary was established and no sense of team playing was established because in a democracy when I don’t like something I not only vocally say so I also vote it out. Only that’s not real life is it?
We are doing a big disservice to our children by not teaching them that they have responsibilities that lie squarely on their shoulders and that one day they will have to rule their own life. My daughter Casey was recently invited to her boyfriend’s summer home with his family. She said that his mother complimented her on her upbringing. We might ask why this was a shock to his mother but I think we all know that manners are a much sought after commodity. She told Casey that she was a woman who was well-mannered and helpful and she didn’t see that very often these days. Casey had been nervous about going but her training served her well.
Casey laughed when I reminded her of all the times she was angry with me because I corrected her manners and made her clean up whether she “felt” like it or not. Casey used to say to me as a little girl, “I’m like Cinderella around here.” She was always a bit dramatic. She gave me a really hard time always questioning why she had to do things that her friends did not. Every single Saturday morning we got up early and did family chores. She hated it and voiced her complaints each time. We’d get all the chores done by noon and then spend the afternoon doing family things like swimming in the pool or going to the movies or shopping or whatever but we got our work out of the way first. It wasn’t up for a vote though. It was clearly established. Now years later she told me it was the best thing for her. She said it’s her best memory of family time and taught her about getting priorities out of the way, working together to get things done and then having your fun with nothing over your head.
Parents, don’t be afraid to set order. I am convinced without a shadow of a doubt that those who order their lives are happier than those who live their lives in chaos. Those who see a monarchy for what it is, a set order of relationship and responsibility do better than those who are continually striving to overthrow the government of a house by a vote.