COLUMN: Parenting is not a popularity contest

What may come as a surprise to some parents is that kids don’t just need rules and expectations, they want them as well.

Parenting comes in many forms.

We all have personal philosophies around raising our children with the ultimate goal of creating successful, happy and healthy adults.

Unfortunately, and to my shock, my children did not arrive with a copy of “Parenting for Dummies” or any other easy reference guide.

The caveat to this editorial is that I am by no means a parenting expert and my observations come from personal experience as a parent, coach and police officer.

Like most parents, I often second-guess myself and wonder if I am doing the right thing for my kids even now that they are adults.

As I grew into parenthood and after nearly 40 years of policing, I began to recognize that raising kids is 90 per cent hard work and 10 per cent luck.

The 90 per cent includes everything from stuffing everyone into a vehicle for a road trip (which always seemed like a good idea in the planning stages) to talking about peer pressure and decision making, to grounding them for breaking curfew, to comforting them when their hearts were broken.

One of the most important parenting lessons that I have learned is that while I do enjoy a friendship with my children, I am not their friend.

There is a clear distinction between parent and friend and many parents want to make their children happy by giving them what they want rather than what they need.

Teenagers want parents that will host parties with alcohol.

What they need is a parent that sets boundaries.

Teenagers want unrestricted use of personal cellphones and social media.

What they need is a parent that protects their dignity.

Teenagers want to go where they want, when they want.

What they need is a parent that knows where they are, who they are with and what they are doing – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What may come as a surprise to some parents is that kids don’t just need rules and expectations, they want them as well.

Even though nearly all kids will push the limits at some point, they will thrive within a clear set of boundaries.

As parents we need to clearly communicate to them what it is we want.

We also need them to understand the consequences of not following rules.

They need to know that “sexting” nude pictures of themselves or getting drunk at a party and engaging in sexual activity with strangers or multiple partners can have devastating consequences.

We will let our children down if we don’t set boundaries, talk openly with them and consistently reinforce those boundaries.

We all make mistakes, our children will make mistakes.

However, we can guide them through life by teaching them that because every action has a reaction; that they must choose their actions wisely.

Jim Cessford is chief of the Delta Police Department and has spent more than 40 years in law enforcement.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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