One of the things I see with many parents these days is indecisiveness. When Johnny wants to go outside, they say no. Then as Johnny continues to whine and wheedle, Mom gives in and lets him go out. When Suzie doesn’t eat her dinner, Dad says she may leave the table, but will get no dessert. Later at dessert time, he gives in and allows her to have dessert.
I’m not sure if these parents are trying to show themselves as kind, but they are actually demonstrating weakness instead. Children need a surefooted parent, a sense of stability. Years ago I heard a quote from a single parent I remembered and tried to emulate: “I hardly ever say no, but when I do, I NEVER change my mind.”
How can parents do a better job of being decisive? First, you must start by knowing when to say yes and when to say no. What is the family standard? What is the goal of your child training? Is there a moral reason that would lead you to one decision or the other. If so, be firm. Don’t make a declaration unless you mean to stand by it.
Second, determine that there are other ways to demonstrate kindness. Plan fun outings, show tenderness when a child is hurt or in need, be kind to animals, watch your tone of voice. But when it is a discipline matter, you must be FIRM.
If you are unsure of what answer to give in a situation, stall. Tell your child that you must think about it a moment before giving her an answer. Then when you decide, stick to your decision. Change your mind only if you are given new information that changes your perspective.
James 1:5-8 (Amplified) says 5If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.6 Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind.7 For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord,8 [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].
I believe that a vacillating parent actually is teaching their child how to be successful in manipulating. For a boy, learning how to manipulate women can have devastating consequences in adult life. For a girl, learning how to manipulate men has serious repercussions. For anyone, manipulating authority and not expecting to ever be told a firm no can lead to narcissism (deep self-centeredness). It can cause problems in keeping a job. Narcissistic people can be self-centered enough to hurt others with no conscience.
By being firm and decisive, you are not being mean. You are being wise. You are presenting an example of authority that is worth following. Decide carefully, then stick to your decision.