Last week we talked about INTEGRITY. This week we are going to focus on the 3rd fundamental in changing your son’s negative behavior: LOVE. Love is a wonderful thing when used properly at the right time, in the right place and for the right reason. When it comes to their kids love is something all parents give freely, but is it the right kind of love? You may be surprised at what you learn.
It Will Take More Than Love
Believe it or not, it takes more than love to help your son grow and succeed. Oh boy… I did it now. I can feel all the Moms out there cringing as we speak. “How dare he say that! What could possibly be more important than love!?” Let’s be honest, if all it took was love, thousands of young men who are failing to launch would be in a college classroom right now instead of asleep in their cozy little beds. But we both know that’s not the case nor is it realistic… yet many parents, both Moms and Dads believe love will fix everything. Young men who fail to launch can’t even get themselves out of bed and “more love” is not going to change that. Now, before you feel completely beaten and downtrodden, let me say that you’re not completely wrong here. Love IS and ISN’T the answer. Now that I have you thoroughly confused, let me simply say, ‘love’ comes in many shapes and sizes and there’s a time and place for each. However, the unfortunate reality of today is that too many Moms and even a few Dads rely too heavily on the affectionate kind of love, which at this stage of life actually stunts their son’s growth, thwarts his progression into manhood and further delays his transition toward independence. What do I mean when I say affectionate love? I mean the kind of love you would give a baby, a toddler or prepubescence child… the love that simple states, “Mom and Dad will take care of everything for you.” Affectionate love is healthy for children, but extremely unhealthy for adolescents and young adults.
“Most of the time people share affection, affection, affection, and that creates frustration. In a powerful breed, that’s going to lead him into aggression. So exercise and discipline play a big role in balance.” – Cesar Milan
Discipline is the Key
Where there is no discipline, there is no balance. Discipline plays an essential role in maintaining balance. We all know, too much of anything can be a bad thing and the same goes for affection. Parents naturally want to give their children affection, especially when their life is hard and difficult. But, it’s how parents go about this task that can get them into serious trouble. We all show affection in different ways and parents are no different. Some parents show affection through rescuing; fixing their son’s problems, shielding him from consequences and protecting him from failure. Other parents show affection with money. Cars, phones, clothes, vacations, credit cards, etc. But do any of these things ensure your son’s success or happiness? Do they instill strong values or shape his character? Is he a more balanced individual as a result of having them? The answer is NO, NO and NO. A parent’s job is not to provide their children with a comfortable lifestyle or even a happy one. Your job is to prepare them for the rigors and challenges of “LIFE” that will inevitably come to pass… period. Yet the question remains… is your son adequately prepared?
“Dogs have integrity. But many humans measure integrity materially, with money. That’s how disconnected and unbalanced we have become.” – Cesar Milan
There are other forms of love that have a far more reaching impact on young men who struggle with ‘failure to launch’ and DISCIPLINE is on the very top of the list. In Proverbs 13:22 it reads, “He that spareth [the] rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him [disciplines] him.” That means discipline is actually a form of love. Whoa!? Say what?! Not exactly what you were expecting right? Is it presumptuous or unfair of me to suggest that both “discipline” and “love” coexist within the same family? You’re probably thinking, if discipline is in anyway related to love it must surely be it’s evil twin. After all discipline sounds so cold, calculated, practically void of feeling. Let’s face it, the word doesn’t exactly give you the warm and fuzzies. Unfortunately, adopting a disciplined approach these days is usually viewed as out-of-date, primitive and old-fashioned. I’m here to tell you, it’s none of those things… discipline is an act of love and I’ll prove it.
DISCIPLINE: An Act of Love
When your son was just a little boy and decided to run out into the middle of a busy street, what did you do? Did you run out there and give him a high-five or a big hug and kiss or did you give him a good slap on the bum? I’m assuming you slapped him on the bum. Now why would you do that? Is it because you like to make your child cry? Of course not. You know why… because you understood what he could not. You understood that if he continued with such behavior he would eventually be hit by a car or even killed. You decided it was far better for him to have a sore bum and live, then a warm hug and die. You did what was necessary; you spanked him and not because it was fun and not because you were angry. You did it to teach him a very important yet painful lesson. You didn’t care if he was mad at you. You didn’t care if he stuck his tongue at you or said mean things to you… that was infinitesimal to what really mattered, that he would live! Now, tell me that’s not an act of love!
Now that your son is much older, what has changed other than the fact he doesn’t run into busy streets anymore? The situation is very different now, isn’t it? Instead of your son running into traffic, he runs to his room, wastes his life away and refuses to grow up, but the urgency and seriousness of the situation has not changed. Your son is once again in danger and something needs to be done about it and soon! This is not the time to give hugs and kisses nor is it the time to sit idly by in hopes he will soon figure it out. Now is the time to act. Now is the time to employ the same kind of love you found so effective so long ago, with discipline.
“Discipline isn’t about showing a dog who’s boss; it’s about taking responsibility for a living creature you have brought into your world.” – Cesar Milan
So why is discipline so unpopular? Well, the very act of disciplining your child immediately infers that you are no longer their friend and the truth is… you’re not. That’s right, you’re not their friend. Now, if you insist that being their friend is a far better approach, then you should get comfortable with your kids calling you by your first name, just as friends would do. But, if you feel the title of FATHER and MOTHER hold far more meaning and carry far more responsibility, then keep listening. The world might tell you to be their friend but I’m telling you right now, that is one of the worst things you could ever do. Take a good look at the world today. The world is more chaotic, confused and dangerous than ever before. They’ll tell you it’s cool and hip and best of all… easy to be your con’s friend! You now have a decision to make. Do you want to be cool or do you want influence!? The world would lead you to believe that being your child’s friend will give you more influence. I’m here to tell you they’re WRONG! It doesn’t give you more influence, it just makes you weak! The truth is, as parents you are so much more than just a friend… you’re their provider, their teacher, their protector and their exemplar. Your calling is far nobler and far more important than being a friend. It’s time to choose… between what you want now and what you want most!
It’s time to choose… Affection or Discipline. Friend or Parent. There is a reason why so many parents these days have chosen to be a friend over being a parent… it’s convenient. Let’s face it… it’s easy and it’s basically void of any real responsibility or accountability for that matter. Parenting on the other hand is hard… really hard. It means you will be disliked, mocked and even possibly hated by your own kids! It will undoubtedly expose you to a barrage of rude comments, snide remarks, unkind words and angry sneers all of which are unfair and unjustified. Is it becoming increasingly clear as to why so many parents choose affection over discipline? Who wants to be the most un-liked person in the house? Nobody. So why do it? Why be the bad guy? Why take the abuse? I’ll tell you why. Because it’s not about you… it’s about them! If you want it to be about you than continue being their friend. But when your son’s life gets flipped upside down and he’s utterly lost and doesn’t t know where to turn, he’s going to need a Father and a Mother… NOT a friend.
“Everyone loves to give affection to their dog, but it can become unhealthy if the affection is given at the wrong time. Humans have a tendency to give affection when the mind is excited, when the mind is aggressive, when the mind is stressed, when the mind is fearful, when the mind is panicky, when the mind is unstable… but that only intensifies the behavior. What you’re really doing is communicating to the dog that you agree with that behavior.” -Cesar Milan
A Quick Summary:
Love is not the answer to all your problems nor your son’s for that matter. Love isn’t going to help him get out of bed or get him a job or manage his money or earn him an education. Young men who are failing to launch can benefit more from discipline than affection. Discipline is not a cruel and careless act, but an act of love. Discipline is making a decision between what you want now and what you want most. Lastly, your son doesn’t need another friend, he needs someone will hold him accountable for what he does and doesn’t do. He needs a parent.
Coming Up Next Week:
Next week I’m going to talk about the last and final fundamental in changing your son’s negative behavior: LEADERSHIP. Leadership is one of the most misunderstood, misused and neglected attribute known to man because it encompasses so much and yet means so little these days. I’m going to condense it, simplify it and then help you make sense of it, so you can apply this fundamental in your home on a daily basis and begin to change your son’s negative behavior.
About The Author
Brook Price dedicated himself to helping others early in his life. He grew up in Sunny Orange County California, then joined the Marine Corps at the age of 21 serving five and half years as a helicopter crew chief and then as chief accountant. His journey with this type of work began when he volunteered as a Young Marines Instructor during his time in the Marines, helping kids get off the street, improve their lives and develop as a leader. After his tour Brook left the Marines to pursue a career in experiential therapy by attending Southern Utah University where he majored in outdoor recreation with a minor in psychology.
Brook has seventeen years experience working for a variety of different therapeutic and transitional programs across the nation. His thirst for knowledge drove him to learn and study successful therapeutic models and programs across the country, most notably Outward Bound. Brook has experience working with therapeutic, residential, military, wilderness and transitional programs for adults and adolescents.
You can also find Brook on Google+