Child-centered families vs. family-centered families
I cannot claim the thought that our families are becoming so child-centered that we are creating a very me-centered generation. I heard a speaker mention the topic almost in passing, and I haven’t been able to let loose of it. I have talked to people, passed it by some parents, and sat around the dinner table discussing what child-centered or family-centered even means. I have been watching for examples on the streets and in Wal-Mart, at soccer games and in the park. I have formed a few observations, and today I share them with you.Parenting always begins with the right idea in mind. We all have the best of intentions: We are motivated by love. We love our kids more than anything else in the world. We look after our kids, support them, provide for them and nurture them. Where in that thinking have we gone astray? Could it be that in our zeal to raise such perfect kids we have forgotten that a healthy child comes from a healthy family first? We are raising kids who are great at being the center. Parents give up their own hobbies, time and money for the kids’ hockey, soccer and dance interests. Siblings don’t see each other compete in a game or go to cheer them on in a race because they are doing their own thing across town. Parents “divide and conquer,” one parent attends one event and one attends the other. Can I be so bold as to say that there is even a time when friends should go home to their own families? When is the last time you have heard a parent say, “No, my child cannot go to the game because his brother is playing in a concert and we are all going to support him?”I am not suggesting that kids no longer participate in activities that teach and build character and are great entertainment. I am, hopefully, enticing families to begin looking at what is best in order to create a healthy, strong family. How does dinner look at your house? How about Sunday morning? Friday night? Tuesday afternoon? Is there any time that is just family time? The sense of having a “family-centered” home is beneficial for several reasons. First, children become aware of what it means to support others and the rewards that come with self-sacrifice. They also start understanding that the joy of friendship is in sharing and participating in each other’s lives.What is the life lesson we want to teach our children? Do we want them to grow up believing that the world revolves around them, that they are the most important people, or that they deserve sacrifices from others? Or would it be better to raise a child who becomes an adult who understands how to support others and knows when to sacrifice for their spouse and kids; an adult who is a team player, a person we all want as an employee and a person who sees the rewards of living in a family-centered home?Lori Mueller is Program Director at YouthZone.
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