Want to Paint a Happy Future for Your Children?
Start Drawing the Line Today.
? recognize the boundary issues underlying child behavior problems
? set boundaries and establish consequences with kids
? get out of the "nagging" trap
? stop controlling your childand instead help your child develop self-control
? apply the ten laws of boundaries to parenting
? take six practical steps for implementing boundaries with your kids
Author Biography: Dr. Henry Cloud is a popular speaker, licensed psychologist, cohost of the nationally broadcast New Life Live! radio program, and cofounder of Cloud/Townsend Resources. He maintains a private practice in Newport Beach, CA, and is a best-selling coauthor (with Dr. John Townsend) of a number of books, including Boundaries in Marriage, Boundaries with Kids, The Mom Factor, and the Gold Medallion Award-winning Boundaries.;Dr. John Townsend is a popular speaker, licensed psychologist, cohost of the nationally broadcast "Minirth Meier New Life Clinic" radio program, and cofounder of Cloud/Townsend Communications. He graduated with a doctorate in clinical psychology from Rosemead Graduate School of Psychology, and maintains a private practice in Newport Beach, CA. He is the best-selling coauthor with Henry Cloud of several books, including Safe People, Twelve "Christian" Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy, and the Gold Medallion Award-winning Boundaries.
Read an Excerpt
The Future Is Now
It was a normal day, but one that would forever change my friend's parenting.
We had finished dinner, and I (Dr. Cloud) was visiting with my friend, Allison, and her husband, Bruce, when she left the dinner table to do some chores. Bruce and I continued to talk until a phone call took him away as well, so I went to see if I could lend Allison a hand.
I could hear her in their fourteen-year-old son Cameron's room. I walked in to a scene that jolted me. She was cheerfully putting away clothes and sports equipment and making the bed. She struck up a conversation as if things were normal: "I can't wait for you to see the pictures from our trip. It was so much --"
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"I'm cleaning up Cameron's room," she said. "What does it look like I'm doing?"
"You are what?"
"I told you. I'm cleaning up his room. Why are you looking at me like that?"
All I could do was to share with her the vision in my head. "I just feel sorry for Cameron's future wife."
Allison straightened up, froze for a moment, and then hurried from the room. I walked into the hall to see her standing there motionless. Not knowing what to say, I said nothing. After a few moments, she looked at me and said, "I've never thought about it that way."
Nor have most of us. We parent in the present without thinking about the future. We usually deal with the problems at hand. Making it through an afternoon without wanting to send our children to an eight-year camp in Alaska seems like a huge accomplishment! But one goal of parenting is to keep an eye on the future. We are raising our children to be responsible adults.
Parents interact with their children in a way that comes naturally to them. For example, Allison was by nature a "helper," and she gladly helped her son. Others have different parenting styles. Some, who are more laid back and uninvolved, leave their son's room alone. Those who are stricter inflict heavy punishment for a less than regulation-made bed.
Certainly, child rearing requires many different interventions. There are times for helping, for not getting involved, or for being strict. But the real issue is this: Is what you are doing being done on purpose? Or are you doing it from reasons that you do not think about, such as your own personality, childhood, need of the moment, or fears?
Remember, parenting has to do with more than the present. You are preparing your child for the future. A person's character is one's destiny.
A person's character largely determines how he will function in life. Whether he does well in love and in work depends on the abilities he possesses inside. In a world that has begun to explain away people's behavior with a variety of excuses, people are left wondering why their lives do not work. Most of our problems result from our own character weakness. Where we possess inner strength, we succeed, often in spite of tough circumstances. But where we do not possess inner strength, we either get stuck or fail. If a relationship requires understanding and forgiveness and we do not have that character ability, the relationship will not make it. If a difficult time period in work requires patience and delay of gratification and we do not possess those traits, we will fail. Character is almost everything.
The word character means different things to different people. Some people use character to mean moral functioning or integrity. We use the word to describe a person's entire makeup, who he is. Character refers to a person's ability and inability, his moral makeup, his functioning in relationships, and how he does tasks. What does he do in certain situations, and how does he do it? When he needs to perform, how will he meet those demands? Can he love? Can he be responsible? Can he have empathy for others? Can he develop his talents? Can he solve problems? Can he deal with failure? How does he reflect the image of God? These are a few of the issues that define character.
If a person's character makeup determines his future, then child rearing is primarily about helping children to develop character that will take them through life safely, securely, productively, and joyfully. Parents -- and those who work with children -- would do well to keep this in mind. A major goal of raising children is to help them develop the character that will make their future go well.
It wasn't until Allison saw this future reality that her parenting changed. She loved helping Cameron. But in many ways her helping was not "helping" Cameron. He had developed a pattern in which he felt entitled to everyone else's help, and this feeling of entitlement affected his relationships at school and at church. Allison had always been glad to help Cameron through the messes he was creating. Another undone project was another opportunity to love him.
Yet Allison was not only a mother, but also a grown woman and a wife. When she looked into the future and saw a time when Cameron would be leaving responsibilities for others to do, she became concerned. What a mother doesn't mind doing, others deplore. She glimpsed the reality of character destiny. And she changed how she interacted with Cameron to help him develop a sense of responsibility, to help him think about how his behavior affected others and whether or not others would want to be a part of his future.
It is in this sense that we say the future is now. When you are a parent, you help create a child's future. The patterns children establish early in life (their character) they will live out later. And character is always formed in relationship. We can't overestimate your role in developing this character. As Proverbs says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22: 6).