Parents: memorize this speech. As a parent my goal is to protect you. If protecting you means having you upset with me, so be it. I love you enough to die for you; you being upset with me is a relatively small thing in my world.
Do you love your children enough to die for them? Most of us do.
But, there is a better question than, “Do you love your children enough to die for them?” The better question is, “Do you love your children enough to say ‘no’ to them?”
There have been times as a father that I have said “no” to something one of our children wanted to do in order to protect him or her. On a few occasions, that child would let me know that he or she was not pleased with me for denying the request.
At such times I give the speech as though I am Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Washington Monument. I say with great urgency, “My goal is to protect you. If protecting you means having you upset with me, so be it. I love you enough to die for you; you being upset with me is a relatively small thing in my world.”
To be honest with you, giving this speech is as much for my benefit as a parent as it is for my children’s. I really, really do not like it when one of my children is upset with me. Yet, I know that having one of them upset with me is a small price to pay for their well-being. If you find yourself wavering when you know that you need to hold your ground, recite the speech with the conviction of Lincoln at Gettysburg. It really helps.
Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him (Proverbs 13:24).” Truly loving your children means saying “no” even though they may not want to hear it.
Ironically, the most angry children over the long haul are not children whose parents disciplined the. Rather, the most angry children are those who have been spoiled by their parents all their lives and have never been told “no.” For an excellent resource for parents, see Lou Priolo’s book, The Heart of Anger.
See also Priolo’s article, Training Teens to Open Up.