Parents ask us questions nearly every day. We get a lot of questions about the “right” way to discipline and why what worked for some growing up doesn’t seem to work for their own kids. We wanted to address the following question about the effectiveness of yelling at kids thoughtfully:
Q: “Why did my husband and I turn out to be respectful, well-adjusted, polite adults even though we were raised with spanking and yelling?”
Great question, and one we hear often.
The simple answer: Parents are not naturally the powerful influence in their kids lives they were just a generation ago. So these days, when parents yell, their kids can quickly escape to a whole new world of other influences.
The Family in Years Past: The Anchor
Until the last century of human history, kids simply absorbed the faith and values of their parents in the context of everyday life. A bit of yelling here or there did little to erode relationships between parents and kids. Sure, kids got angry and parents were relationally distant, but the family was still the anchor.
This began to change over the last hundred years or so as families moved away from the mainstay of farming and parents’ “traditional values.” Still, the changes of leaving kids to play with neighbors or sending them to school with the community at large did not have much potential to counter the values taught in homes. Everyone’s parents yelled a bit and it was no big deal.
The Family of Today: Shifting Influences
This has changed dramatically in the past twenty years as the power of the internet to access people and shape their values has exploded. Driven by advertisers, whose primary goal is to shape values so that people will buy their products, the internet has created a new type of community, one kids can quickly run to when dissatisfied with their parents.
The values that drive the internet and social media are intricately tied to advertising dollars, and advertising is bent on shaping values in order to drive consumerism. The result: the prominence and power of the internet-driven worldwide youth culture may be the most massive and influential social force our world has ever known. Even those kids protected from the direct impacts are hanging out with friends whose values are vastly different than their parents’ values.
The Key to Connection and Transmission of Values: Intentionality
To boil it down, there are many people working purposefully and effectively to shape your kids’ values. These days when parents yell, kids can quickly escape to a whole new and highly influential world. If you are not intentional to provide the kind of relationship needed to win your child’s influence, you will likely lose your influence as the primary value shaper in their lives.
That’s why this is so important.
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