Dr. Rich Patterson

Creating Relationships with Kids – III

As an educator, I have worked with kids and families for over 40 years, and I have noticed that parents have trouble holding their kids accountable.  You know your child better than anyone, and you know how hard you can push them, yet many adults get tired and let kids slip by without doing their best.  The second of Search Institute’s Relationships Framework (www.search-institute.org) is Challenge Growth.  I have a friend who has three boys of varying abilities.  This first son was bright but not ambitious.  His second son was super bright, dependable, and pushed himself almost without any prompting.  His third son didn’t have the same abilities as his other two brothers and was highly social.

This father believed in pushing his boys by expecting them to perform at their full potential.  It was a bit of a struggle for the first son, but then he would get going.  The second son was pretty much able to achieve independently, and it was a real struggle for the third son.  He pushed him, ensured that he sat down, and completed homework–supervised if necessary.  He helped him analyze where he was falling short.  It was hard work and a constant struggle.  If he earned poor grades, his father would kick in the self-discipline, pushing him to do better.  If he slacked off, his dad would get him in gear again and again.  He was a slightly above average kid, yet he earned an appointment to one of the military academies and graduated.  This appointment absolutely would never have happened if his father had not taken the time constantly to hold him accountable, push him, and stay with him in such a way that he produced the best quality work he was able to.

What am I saying?  I am saying expect the best from your kids in everything.  Work with them, tell them why it is essential to be your best.  Explain to them that by doing their best every day, they create a reserve toolbox called determination, perseverance, and stick-to-itiveness.  This reserve toolbox will come into play when you aren’t around.  When they face adversity, difficult times, opposition, and put-downs, they will pull through when the going is lonely.

Examine this in light of your kids and your situation.  Be willing to disrupt the household for their good, for their accountability, and follow-through.  Be ready to pay your dues upfront in terms of effort as a parent so that you won’t have to pay when they are older and confused about what they want to do in life.  Help them create it now, see it come alive, and know it is there when they need it.

You’ll be glad you did!