Do not let your children do things that make you dislike them.
We’ve all been there. Trying to have a nice, quiet meal or watch a movie in the theatre when someone’s kid starts running up and down the aisles, making noise and just being disruptive. You start to think, “Okay, mom or dad, get your kid under control.” But they don’t. Should you say something? Should you not?
Everyone wants (and thinks) their kids to be the best behaved. A lot of parents seem to be blind when other parents don’t want to be around their children. And no one, no one, wants to be the parent who all other parents hate (their kid).
“More thoughtful parents would not have let someone they truly cared for become the object of a crowd’s contempt.(p. 113)
Kids’ minds are like sponges. They thrive on comparing themselves with adults (seeing who they should be) and testing the boundaries of their parents’ patience. A great example of order becoming too toxic is when a child hits his/her mother/father and either doesn’t receive punishment or is given what they want, because it’s easier for the parent. This is an order, a routine, that the child has learned.
One interesting point Peterson has on teaching a child a good habit is this: to a child, a week’s worth of punishment in which your parent holds the door closed while you try to escape feels like forever. But for an adult, it’s simply an hour each night for one week. Five hours is all it takes to reinforce a good habit.
This is why laws exist. A punishment is in place and we all know if we murder someone, we go to prison. If a child knows when they do something wrong they’ll be punished, they’ll be less likely to do this thing. Zero consequences for behaviors equals a less than well-behaved child.
Another point Peterson makes is that, these days, parents seem to be more obsessed with being their child’s friend than parent. A friend doesn’t always care for you the same magnitude as a parent. A parent shapes a child to be the best they can. A friend doesn’t always do that. And, if you wish to become a parent, be prepared for the day (or many days) where your child will say they hate you. Because they will. Children are testing their boundaries, after all.
Organize your child’s mind before they become an adult. Because in adulthood, it is far more difficult to reorganize a mind.
In order to properly raise a socially-acceptable child, a system of reward must be put into place. A child won’t behave unless they receive positive reinforcement whenever they do. Watch your children. When they do something that makes you like them, reward it with positive words or an action.
As a personal example, my parents were far more worried about keeping me safe instead of independent. I have an older sister and an older brother. As the youngest, I could do no wrong as a child. Once I gained a group of friends, I was a tyrant. I was a bully, regarded as “bossy” by my peers. I was angry when things didn’t go my way, and horribly sad when I didn’t receive praise.
Because of this, when my sister fell pregnant with the first grandchild, I felt as though my parents were having another baby. I was invisible after that. I even recall my grandmother tell my sister she was the favorite grandchild as I sat next to her. I didn’t feel it was fair that my sister, with her multiple medically-terminated pregnancies and failed marriages, seemed perfect in my parents’ eyes simply because she was a mother.
Maybe I deserved it for being a bully for so long. Maybe I didn’t. In middle school. I became reserved to the point of having no friends, while my brother and sister thrived. It made me feel like less of a human, creating a malleable mind. I was then chosen by an abuser to be his next victim. It was the love and attention I had craved from my parents. And it worked out just about as well as you’d think.
My views on what makes a good partner for me have been reinforced since I escaped that situation. And I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find someone who wishes me to love myself instead of wanting to mold me into his idea of a perfect partner.
“Be good company when something fun is happening, so you’re invited to more fun things.(p. 137)
Truly, I wish someone had told me that a million years ago. Had that happened, I wouldn’t be needing to constantly remind myself of that every second. Trying to create a good habit in adulthood is very, very difficult.
I’ll leave you with this final quote:
““The only time no ever means no in the absence of violence is when it is uttered by one civilized person to another”(p. 140).
Peterson, J.B.. (2018). 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos. Canada: Penguin Random House.