Far-sighted parenting is a must for growing up responsible kids. When a person is near-sighted or far-sighted, they need glasses (or contacts or laser surgery). Corrective lenses bring things far away close to us. They also bring things that are blurry close-up into clearer vision.1
For a person to have normal, correct vision, their far-sightedness must be corrected as well as their near-sightedness. A person who is far-sighted can see far away but not close up clearly. Parents need to develop far-sighted parenting.
Parenting is much the same. Some parents have only near-sighted vision. Others have far-sighted. There must be a balance.
Yet, in the heat of the moments of raising kids (including those obnoxious teenagers), we tend to focus on the now and not consider ten years down the road. We want to get through the moment, through the instance, or through the day with as little conflict as possible. So we put out small fires today and forget that there’s a larger fire raging on the inside of our kids – the fire that we won’t see until they’re much older. We forget to practice fire safety now.
How many parents give in because today it’s too much hassle, too difficult, or too frustrating to deal out discipline? How many of us look hard down the road of parenting and consider where we want this child to be in ten or twenty years? Instead of developing a strategy that gives us purpose for endurance, we take off our far-sighted glasses and keep trucking through today.
Don’t get me wrong. We need to focus on the present – on today and tomorrow – for doing that well guarantees success down the road. Neglecting our kids today brings heartache down the road.
Yet the fact remains that many parents refuse to do far-sighted parenting. They don’t think about a 16-year-old demanding to have the car keys and refusing to take “No” for an answer when their toddler refuses to take no for an answer – so they give in.
Many of the struggles we face with teenagers are a result of our lack of far-sighted parenting when they’re toddlers. Excusing ourselves with “She’s so little,” or “It’s just this one time” might get us off the hook today, but it only exacerbates the fire smoldering within. Children want us to say “No.” They need to hear the word “No.”
Saying Yes while still saying No
It’s true that we should say “Yes” as often as we can. Yet that does not mean we give in to a child who refuses to do what is expected or required of them. We can give a child permission to go to a friend’s house after he has cleaned his room. Instead of saying, “No, you can’t go because you haven’t cleaned your room,” you’re telling him, “Yes, you can go after you clean your room.” You are still endorsing his responsibilities but helping him understand that the “No” only happens after he refuses to obey.
Your child learns the consequences of not fulfilling his commitments or responsibilities. When he learns this as a child, he is better-suited for employment as an adult. That’s far-sighted parenting. When our child learns to obey even when he disagrees or does not understand why, you are preparing him for life. He’ll be a better employee when he learns to follow instructions and do what is necessary instead of bucking the system.
The end result of far-sighted parenting
Consider the type of adult you want your child to become. Then use each day to develop those character qualities in him. That is far-sighted parenting.
Keep your eye on the end of the road instead of just the curve up ahead. Choose your goals – then plan your route accordingly. Ask yourself: “Is giving in to this child now going to get him where I want him to be when he’s 21?”
You do not need to tell me this is easy. I already know. But this I also know: when we stay the course, our kids and their parents will be happier in the end.