the buck stops here

What “The Buck Stops Here” Has to do With Security in Kids

the buck stops here

How to Help our Children Be Secure

One of the greatest securities we can give our children is for them to know (1) where the buck stops and (2) that it doesn’t stop with them. Every child needs to know that “the buck stops here”.

Another of the greatest securities we can give our kids is for them to know that their parents are committed to each other for life. For children in a two-parent home, security is greatest when they experience this fact.

Sadly, for some families, a two-parent home is not an option for children and they don’t have the blessing of being raised by a set of parents who love each other and their children.  “The buck stops here” is an option for every home and every family, whether children live with a single mom, an aunt, a grandparent, or any other adult.

Every child, no matter how much he wails and whines and begs, wants to know that the wall is solid. When a child can finagle and manipulate the adults in his life, he becomes insecure. When he can (figuratively) beat, pound, yell, and holler at the wall and the wall remains solid and sure, he will feel secure. Oh, he won’t show it or act like it, but he will feel secure. He needs to know that the buck stops here.

Where that phrase about the buck comes from is debatable. President Harry Truman used it frequently to let others know that he was responsible for running this country and he wasn’t going to “pass the buck” to anyone else.

Parents need to do the same thing. While it is difficult, it is important that parents stand their ground when they’ve made some rules. The problem is that kids beg and plead and use the you-don’t-love-me guilt trip on the parents. Sometimes it gets worse than that. I-wish-I-didn’t-live-here or I-wish-you-weren’t-my-parent or I-don’t-love-you and even I-hate-you! are lines many kids use to guilt-trip the adults in their lives into giving in.  Remind yourself – and them – that the buck stops here. You will make mistakes, but the buck still needs to stop with you.

A friend of mine had a son who said to her one day, “I don’t love you! I don’t even like you anymore!”

To which she replied, “Oh, I think you do; but it’s okay if you don’t want to love me. You still need to obey.”

You see what he tried to do there? He tried to make her choose his love for her over his obedience to her.

You see what she did there? She didn’t cave because of his words. She knew he loved her, but even when he didn’t want to admit it, she expected him to obey. The wall was solid. The buck stopped right there.

the buck stops here


An Insecure Child is an Unhappy Person

Even though children might seem happy when adults give in to their whims, they are not. An insecure child is an unhappy child.

An unhappy child makes for an unhappy adult and an unhappy life. One of the best things we can do for our kids is help them be secure. A child who has boundaries and knows they won’t move is secure. He might not like the boundaries, but he will be secure. He might beg and plead for you to give in to his whims, but he’ll be happiest and most secure if he knows those boundaries are there and aren’t going to move. He needs to know that the buck stops here.

When we constantly give in and change guidelines or boundaries because of a whim or an event or because everybody else’s kid gets to go, we are breeding insecurity in our children.

the buck stops here

Is there ever a time to give in or allow a child to do something we said he couldn’t? Certainly.

The question is not so much if boundaries should change in a situation, but why we consider changing the boundaries. Sometimes we’re too rash in our judgments or don’t think through the consequences we have given. Sometimes the consequences aren’t really do-able. In those times, it’s a good idea to consider making a change.

If,  however, we want to make a change because we don’t want our child’s anger to lash out at us, if we want to change because we want to be our child’s friend instead of the parent, then the wall needs to stay solid. Make sure the buck stops here.

Is it easy? Of course not.

No matter how hard it is, our kids need to know that the wall is solid. Children need more than food, clothing, and shelter. They need safety, security, and structure. Those three things let them know where the buck stops. You can read about that here. In addition to giving them love, give them the message that the buck stops here. Years down the road, you’ll be so glad you did. Your kids will know they can count on you, for they will have learned that the buck stops here. They will also be able to respond properly to those in authority because they will have learned how to do that at home.

When we choose being a parent above being our child’s friend, they will know that the buck stops here. That, my friends, is one of the best ways for a child to feel safe, loved, and secure. It’s one of the greatest gifts we can give.

the buck stops here


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