How democratic parenting is letting us down: a top-ten list.
1) It's wasting our time. An unusually long amount of time can be spent attempting to explain to subordinates (children) why certain things just "are" (such as bedtimes, dental appointments, nutritious food, etc.) when a simple "Because I said so" takes less than four seconds. Try it.
2) It's forcing us to redirect our energies. We could be reading a book, chatting with a friend, or learning a new language. Instead, we are constantly forced to make that everyone's needs are met and that they are valued as human beings. Whatever.
3) It's causing us to take our eye off the ball. While we are at the organic-wood store shopping for a Talking Stick, we might be missing out on some valuable Facebook updates, Twitter gossip, and neighbours behaving badly -- things all adults need to thrive.
4) It raises false hopes. The kids think they're equal to adults. In fact, they think they're equal to everyone. Then they get to school, and then work, and discover that they're at the bottom of the totem pole. Why let them go through that? Let them know they're there to begin with.
5) It's creating monsters. Children should not be in charge of planning a vacation, choosing dinner, selecting bedtimes, or deciding when to leave someone's house. This type of power will result in the contraction of a horrible disease, known as "entitlement," which is currently running rampant in North American society. You can't always get what you want, kids. Sometimes, you can't even get what you need.
6) It leads to real-life avoidance. It's pretty much guaranteed that someone is always going to be the boss of you, unless you're Richard Branson or Bill Gates. May as well face facts early: you're not in charge, kid.
7) It fosters misguided beliefs. Your voice is not equal. Your opinions are rarely valid. Get over it.
8) It forces us to sweat the small stuff. Determining whether your six-year-old is comfortable with the decisions you've made regarding his bedroom décor undermines the fact that you bought and paid for the house that surrounds the bedroom he's living in. Get back to work and pay off that mortgage, and don't for a second reconsider changing that paint colour.
9) It's a slippery slope. Once we let our children start making small decisions about what to have for dinner and what time they should go to bed, it's not long before they are successfully petitioning for the master bedroom and telling you that you can't have wine because you won't be able to drive them to a movie. And back. (Sorry about the scare tactics, but it needs to be said.)
10) It's put bad thoughts in our heads. The popularity of Democratic Parenting has somehow led us to believe that Autocratic Parenting (or, as it's known in nature, "real" parenting) is bad. Clearly some child was behind this theory in the first place.
Bottom line? It's pretty simple. I suggest you skip all of the talking, angst, and drama and embrace the fact that you can be the boss, just like in a successfully run business. Imagine! You can set the rules and make sure they are followed. You can listen to your kids without letting them run the show. Or you can waste time and energy letting them think that they are in charge and then figuring out ways to wrestle back some sense of control.
If you have the time to kill, go for it. But if you'd rather be more efficient and productive, you might want to consider laying down the law every once in a while.
Because you can. You're. The. Boss.
Excerpted from "I Am So The Boss Of You: An 8 Step Guide To Giving Your Family The Business", published by McClelland & Stewart, 2013, Kathy Buckworth. Available at bookstores everywhere and online at Amazon. Kathy Buckworth is the Chief Family Advisor for President's Choice Financial. Visit www.kathybuckworth.com