Dicy McCullough: Loving parents care enough to say No

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 30, 2012

This past year I’ve had a lot of fun watching my grandson, Carson Michael, grow. He’s 13 months old now and, as they say, “into everything.” Yet that’s the way it should be. I’ve not only enjoyed watching Carson, but I’ve also enjoyed watching my daughter and her husband, Brian, learn and grow along with their son.
A couple of weeks ago my husband, Michael, and I were over at their house for supper. Kristin put Carson in his high chair and he soon began enjoying a meal of spaghetti. No matter what’s for supper, he loves it, and it’s obvious by his rosy cheeks that food agrees with him.
Like any 1-year old, for Carson there comes a point when supper’s over and it’s time to play. Sure enough, before everyone was finished eating, Carson decided he wanted to play a game of throw the noodles on the floor. Kristin very lovingly told him several times, “No, Carson.” He’d stop for a minute or two, but then go right back to his little game. Finally, Brian looked at him and very sternly said, “Carson, stop throwing food on the floor.” Guess what? He looked at his dad and after that he didn’t throw food anymore.
I wondered about the fast response, and that’s when I heard the back story. The week before, Kristin, Brian and Carson were eating at a restaurant when Carson began his little game. Kristin and Brian both told him to stop, but he didn’t listen. Finally, Brian raised his voice and said, “Carson, don’t throw food on the floor!” This time Kristin said Carson’s lip began to quiver, but he stopped throwing food.
I sat at the table a little while longer watching my grandson interact with his mom and dad and thought about how much that little boy is loved. He’s loved so much that his parents are setting boundaries. Today it’s a simple lesson of not throwing food, but tomorrow it may be learning respect for others.
While it’s true there are variables in raising children such as friends and school, having a home with parents who care enough to discipline gives children an edge they wouldn’t have otherwise. Learning boundaries in small things will make it easier when Carson transitions into school.
A friend of mine, Lucy Shue, said she remembers her son’s pre-school graduation at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church a few years ago when Alan King addressed these same kinds of issues. Dr. King at one time was principal of China Grove Elementary School and later South Rowan High, but now he is part owner of Creative Teaching Aids. For the graduation speech, he adapted concepts from a program the PTA at China Grove endorsed about 30 years ago called Parent to Parent. That program taught parents the necessary tools to raise independent, responsible children.
One of the main points Dr. King included in his speech was that a parent shouldn’t be their child’s “attorney, banker or insurance agent.” In other words, teach children to save for things they want. If they get into trouble don’t always bail them out, but let them suffer the consequences of their actions. If they wreck the car, don’t go right then and replace it. To some this may sound harsh, but the bottom line is these principles teach responsibility and build character.
I can hear Carson moaning and groaning now, but as a parent and grandparent I think Dr. King should sign up to speak at more preschool graduations. What do you think?
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Dicy McCullough is the author of “Tired of School.” Contact her at 704-278-4377.