Parenting is tough. It gives modern parents little joy and plenty of suffering. Much of this suffering can be prevented by understanding how parenting works. This article offers an explanation of how parenting works.
Objective of parenting
The objective of parenting is to raise children to be independent adults. Independent adults are mentally strong. Their mental strength allows them to handle the adversities of life without getting overwhelmed. They are self-confident but not selfish.
What makes people mentally strong?
Mentally strong people control their emotions. They don’t get overpowered by any emotion whether positive or negative. They don’t let their emotions drive their behaviour. This ability is their superpower. It helps them handle adversity with grace as fear doesn’t overwhelm them. They are not selfish because their selfish instincts don’t overwhelm them. They are self-confident as the fear of unforeseen adversities do not trouble them.
How do mentally strong people control their emotions?
Controlling emotions is not a conscious activity. It is a skill. Intellectual knowledge cannot be used to acquire this skill. It can only be acquired through practice. This is why there are intellectually knowledgeable people who are mentally weak and less knowledgeable people who are mentally strong. People who are already attached to emotions find it hard to practice this skill. Their attachment to emotions makes it too difficult for them to practice controlling it.
How do mentally strong people acquire the skill to control emotions? #
Very few people acquire mental strength by consciously practicing it. Most people acquire this skill in childhood. Their parents teach it to them when they are young. Their parents teach it by enforcing rules for behaviour. These rules force children to disregard their emotional impulses. For example, when parents punish children for dishonest behaviour, it forces children to behave honestly even if they don’t like it. Once they grow up they realize the value of their forced honesty. They will see that honesty earns trust. So, once children become adults they realize the benefits ot the rules their parents enforced. They realize the value of controlling emotions. They realize that controlling emotions made them mentally strong. It made them self-confident. So they carry on enforcing the rules themselves. The rules stick with people when they are backed by morality. Morality adds a sense of right and wrong to the rules. It helps people hang on to the rules throughout their lives. It helps them control their emotions. Mentally strong people have a code of morality. It is the source of their strength.
How to raise children to be mentally strong?
Teach them your morality. If you are religious teach them your religion. If you have your own morality teach them that. If your children adopt your morality they will grow up to be mentally strong.
How to teach morality to children?
Teaching anything to children is hard as they look for instant gratification. Teaching morality is especially difficult as it gives benefit only in the long run. The only way you can teach morality to your children is by forcing them to follow it. You have to make them follow the rules of your morality by using your influence as a parent. But you also have to make sure that your influence doesn’t make them submissive adults who follow authority blindly. Children who grow up to be submissive adults are low in self-confidence and mentally weak.
How to influence children?
Unfortunately, most modern parents have little or no influence on their children. In many families, it is the children who have an influence on their parents. Parents walk on eggshells to please their children. If you have this dynamic in your family it will be impossible for you to teach anything to your children as they have no reason to follow your guidance. But if you have an influence on your children they will follow your guidance. So influence is the key for successful parenting.
One method to influence your children is fear. But it is not a good method. This is because when you use fear to influence your children, they will see you as an authority and will fear to fail. Children are not equipped to handle that kind of pressure. The fear of failure will make them averse to the emotion of fear. That aversion will completely sabotage all your teachings on morality. Your children will grow up to be low on self-confidence and mentally weak.
Another method to influence children is to use rewards. This method is popular among modern parents. In this method, parents bribe their children to make them behave morally. This method is not effective as children are given an option to decline the reward. They will reject the reward whenever it comes in the way of instant gratification. So they will reject your rules when they don’t like it. A child who grows up like will adopt little or nothing of your morality. They will grow up with low self-confidence and will be mentally weak.
The best method to influence children is through parental leadership. When you are your children’s leader you will have a strong influence on them in the form of respect they have for you. Using your position as a leader you can make them follow your morality. They will follow your guidance out of respect. Your influence as a leader on your children works less through intimidation and more through trust and loyalty. It will help your children follow your guidance and build self-confidence at the same time.
What is leadership?
Leadership is a relationship where a person submits to someone they trust. They do it to receive the support of a mentally strong person. A leader is mentally strong. A follower is mentally weak. A leader’s mental strength allows him to care for his followers sacrificially. The sacrificial nature of his care makes followers submit to him. Once followers submit to a leader they cede their autonomy to the leader to follow his guidance. After followers submit to a leader they feel strengthened. This is because they feel safe under the leadership of a mentally strong leader. So, in essence, leadership provides strength to the mentally weak.
What does parental leadership look like?
It is an unequal relationship. You shouldn’t treat your children as adults. You should understand that they are immature and are looking for you to be their leader. As their leader, you shouldn’t get influenced by them. You should never get manipulated by them. You shouldn’t take their demands, tantrums and opinions seriously. Their demands and opinions should have little or no bearing on your decisions for them. You should not be afraid to take tough decisions which they don’t like. You should always have the upper hand in the relationship. You should not try to hide the unequal nature of your relationship with your children. Your demonstration of leadership will make your children feel safe. They will respect you out of trust and loyalty, not fear. You should develop trust by being completely selfless towards them. Your children should be able to trust your decisions for them even if they don’t like it. You should derive joy by sacrificially caring for them. This is the right kind of love from you to your children.
How to become your child’s leader?
Your children will not accept you as their leader just because you are their parent. You need to show leadership qualities. Once you do that your children will naturally accept you as their leader.
Mental strength is the essential quality of a leader. You don’t have to be the world’s most mentally strong person to become your children’s leader. You just have to be more mentally strong than them. Even if you are not naturally mentally strong you can act strongly in your child’s eye to become their leader. You can mimic the following natural behaviours of mentally strong people to become their leader:
Pass leadership tests
Your children will naturally look for a leader in you. The way they find out if you are a leader is by testing you. If you pass their tests they will start respecting you. If you pass enough tests they will accept you as their leader. These tests are conducted by your children subconsciously. All of them have the same theme of trying to manipulate your emotions. If you don’t get manipulated by their tests, you pass the test.
Your children will deliberately disobey you. This is a test to see if they can get an emotional response from you. If you respond with anger you lose the test. Your children will get joy from making you angry as it makes them feel powerful. They will also lose respect for you as they can manipulate your emotions easily. But if you respond with calm disappointment you pass the test. You show your children that they can’t manipulate your emotions. They will respect you for it.
Your children will try to manipulate you by throwing tantrums. They will act as if they will die without a candy. If you get scared and give them the candy they will lose respect for you. You failed the test as you were easily manipulated by your children. But if you remain calm and completely ignore their tantrum, they will see you as a strong person for not getting manipulated. They might throw a bigger tantrum when you ignore them, but eventually, they will calm down and start having a new found respect for you..
Passing leadership tests is, in essence, taming your child. See every case of child disobeying you or disrespecting you as an opportunity to show your leadership. Unfortunately, your child will never stop testing you. But the tests will decrease the more you demonstrate your mental strength.
You should demonstrate unlimited empathy for your child. Most people who show empathy for others have only a shallow empathy. Their empathy dies as soon as they find it uncomfortable. But mentally strong people have empathy for others even when it hurts them. The ability to withstand emotional trauma helps them care for others when under stress. For example, a strong corporate manager will shield his team from the pressure of higher management so that they don’t feel the stress. The manager will bear all the pressure of higher management out of empathy for his team. As a parent, you should demonstrate similar selflessness to your children. You should invest your time, effort and resources in your children without expecting anything in return. You shouldn’t use your children to increase your status in society. You shouldn’t put pressure on them to be successful so that you can brag about them with your friends. You shouldn’t push them into a career because you couldn’t do it yourself. You shouldn’t even care if they have no gratitude for your sacrifices. There shouldn’t be anything to gain for you from your children. Your selflessness will make your children trust you more than anyone in the world. It will make them loyal to you. It will allow them to follow your guidance without any reservation. It will give them the strength to implement it in their lives.
Don’t be yourself around your children
Children are naturally insecure because they are intimidated by the world. Due to this insecurity, they don’t respond well to weakness in adults. They disrespect adults who are weak. Since you are your children’s leader you cannot afford to lose respect from them. As a result,you should never show your weakness to them. You will naturally have weak moments like any other adult. But you should hide it from your child. You cannot be vulnerable in front of your children. You should not share your insecurities or problems with them. Unfortunately, that means you cannot be yourself around your children. You need to put on a show for their sake.
How to influence your child once you become their leader?
Your should inculcate morality in your children by helping them practice it in their lives. By practising morality, they will see the benefits it provides on their own. Guide them to use morality in their daily decisions and choices. Let them fail when implementing your guidance. It is not easy for children to follow the rules of morality. Understand this and provide a safety net by not judging them when they fail. Build a strong bond of trust so that they know that you are always on their side, even when they fail. It will build self-confidence in them. Slowly stop using your influence as your children grow up. As they grow up they will gain self-confidence and slowly become independent. But they will still follow you as they will not want to disappoint you. Their gratitude and respect for you will make them not want to disappoint you even when they become independent. Once they reach adulthood you should stop using your influence so that they can become completely independent. Your position should change from a leader to a friend they respect.
Handling difficulties in being your child’s leader
Lack of mental strength in a parent
The main problem you will face in becoming your children’s leader is your lack of mental strength. It is not difficult to become strong enough to become your children’s leader. You will naturally gain some mental strength after becoming a parent. Harness that strength to push yourself to take risks and be comfortable with stress. Push yourself to remain calm under pressure. You will naturally gain confidence once you see some success.
Form support groups
You can gain mental strength by sharing your difficulties with other parents who are going through the same journey. It will make you feel that you are not alone in this endeavour. It will make you strong when you realize that others are facing similar difficulties like you.
Have a life separate from parenting
Many parents get too involved in parenting. This makes them take minor setbacks seriously. They lose confidence leading to more setbacks leading to a vicious cycle of loss in confidence. This can be prevented by having a productive life outside parenting. For example, having a fulfilling career will make you less attached to parenting. Something other than parenting has to be your mission in life. You will get tremendous respect from your children for just having a mission other than parenting. Success outside parenting will help you handle the ups and downs of parenting with grace.