how to reward my child

To The Current And Future Parents Seeking To Reward Their Kids

Parents face the ultimate struggle of raising a child to be independent while also loving and caring for them, and it's easy to slip into a pattern of providing material affection rather than a genuine connection.

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arjunt
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Pretend that you're a parent. I know, impossible to see yourself in that thankless position right now, but your parents and theirs all thought that at your age too, and look where they are now. You're at a store to buy something, and you bring your son along because he needs to get out of the house more often and you want to spend time with him. Everything's going great at first; you've both got a good banter going, and it feels like you're actually connecting with him in a way you haven't before.

This all changes when you stroll by the toy section and he begins to eye a certain action figure. He plants his feet, points at the excessively muscular blob of plastic, and mutters those words you hate hearing: "I want it."

What a spoiled brat, you might think to yourself. You, unfortunately, know from experience what's going to happen. You're in a rush and short on cash, so you gently tell him that we're in a hurry and he can get a toy on his birthday in a couple months, desperately hoping this situation will turn out differently. As if on command, he turns red, and seconds later he erupts into sobbing and tears. You submit to him like you always do—you grab the action figure and head to the checkout. He grins over his additional victory. With the swipe of a credit card, you're free. For now.

When children take advantage of their parents' love and care to get what they want, they really aren't cognizant of the mistake they are making. Every time they satisfy their tangible desires through physical gifts, they become more reliant on being rewarded with fairly meaningless substances. Parents struggle to identify how to properly reward children and behavior and can often choose this ineffective route of material objects. The decision has dangerous consequences as children become spoiled and ultimately grow dependent on their parents to bail them out of adversity.

Giving children material gifts no doubt seems like a reasonable form of parenting. After all, parents just want their kids to be happy, and a gift here and there does no harm. Catering to each of their child's desires to potentially form a stronger bond between is certainly enticing. At the same time, however, no parent wants to willingly place obstacles or barriers in front of their son or daughter, so they end up babying them.

As a result of being pampered, children learn to take advantage of their parents' disposition to generosity—not out of malice, but simply because they can get away with it. After being spoiled for a great duration, children like your hypothetical son might think their gifts were like rights that they deserved, not privileges to be earned. James Lehman has a master's in Social Work and regularly write to parents struggling with taking care of their children. He notes in one article that the sense of obligation doesn't dissipate when children are pleased by gifts, but instead grows to make them feel entitled. Entitlement makes kids unprepared for when an adult won't always be there to support them. When this behavior isn't corrected at a young age, then they become rooted in a cycle of receiving gifts and don't know how to react to adversity, a situation no child or adult should find themselves in.

If parents shouldn't appease children, what should we do? It's hard to abandon material gifts, but rewarding positive behavior with a different type of gift is the best way to teach them to be independent while retaining a connection. This reward doesn't offer the tangible items your son yearns for, but it is much more powerful. It is something that even the strongest of action figures cannot achieve. Instead of buying your son a toy, why not show a love that no sum of money can replicate and spending quality time with him? This is a better expression of how you care for him. Your son will value this type of fathering much more, and he won't be reliant on always getting his way without adversity. He'll become more independent, and while that's frightening as a caring parent, independence does not mean disconnection. Your son can be intimately connected to you without relying on material satisfaction. Watching him grow as an individual and forge his own character is much more rewarding than the artificial gratitude of the past. Someday, he might even have his own loving family that he will take good care of—just like you did.

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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A Toxic Mother Can Cause Just As Much Damage As An Absent Father

They're real, they're out there.

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What's worse, a toxic mother or an absent father?

I saw this on Twitter and I had to give my input.

An absent father is kind of like a blank space that either you can fill or you have filled. Some mothers choose to make the absentee father the hero, the villain, or anonymous. Fathers play a huge role in their daughters' lives by being their first love and in their sons by being their first role models of how a man treats a woman. Absent fathers tend to be full of blame and excuses towards everyone besides themselves. By creating the narrative that it wasn't by choice but a decision.

Fathers are the anchor in the household providing stability, safety, and security. When it's missing, there is a need to find it. Leading boys to feel like they need to become men before their time and pushing girls to beg for love that was always intended to be free.

Absent fathers have been an epidemic in minority communities for decades. Starting off by force and continuing by choice. But that void can be a bottomless pit to be filled with whatever can close the gap. Though it should be fixed with self-love and personal identity, it tends to be the opposite.

Absent fathers create a hole that society could never fill.

Now, toxic mothers.

They're real, they're out there. I know it's a shock but not every mother is from "The Brady Bunch" or "The Cosby Show." There are mothers who are present in their children's lives and still abdicate the role of being the nurturer, lover, and protector. Though they don't catch nearly as much flack as absent fathers, their effects can be just as detrimental. Being the sole parent in the household, children are completely dependent upon them for shelter, nutrition, self-care, and everything else. They are taking the roles of two in one. So we aren't talking about the single moms who are killing it and making a way but falling short.

No, no.

We're talking about moms who use the children's dependency upon them and abuse the power that their title, mother, entails. Mothers are their sons' first love, and how they treat their sons affects their views on women. Mothers who degrade their daughters with slurs, try to emasculate their sons, they forfeit their roles by being the root of hate instead of love.

Toxic mothers distort an image of love and replace it with fear.

In reality, no one has a perfect family life or an ideal home situation. But through our experiences, we can be better for our children and the generation to come. We don't have to be a slave to our past, but instead, we can master our future.

But this started off with a question: what's worse, a toxic mother or an absent father?

The worst thing would be to have both.

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