Why Me?

My youngest daughter recently came to stay with her two children while her husband attends school for a new job position. The first thing I noticed was how differently she was handling the training of her children. She wasn't using any of the methods I used in the training of her and her younger brother. At first I wondered why, then I realized that she was too young to pick up on my techniques while she was in the process of being trained. I asked her if she remembered how I had raised her, and she only stared back at me with a blank look on her face. That's when it became evident that she was really going it on her own rather than resting on the tried and tested methods of old Dad.

I also began to realize that there are probably many other young moms and dads out there who may want some assistance in the area of training their youngsters. That was the inspiration for this work. I had to ask myself, “Why should I go to all the effort of putting my advice out where everyone can criticize and condemn?” Why Me? Then I began to count my blessings and consider how fortunate I am to have four wonderful grown children who any parent would be proud to display to the rest of the world. That's why me.

To begin with, I have to attribute much of what I have learned to the blessing of the Good Lord. I knew, when I was in junior high school, much of what it takes to train a child. I don't know where the knowledge came from - It just seemed to be there. My family lived on Capital Hill in Seattle, Washington. It was only about a 15 to 20 minute walk to down-town. It was often my duty to take care of my younger sister and brother while both of my parents worked. That would have been my first experience in the training of children.

By the time I was in high school my parents had moved south of the metropolitan area and close to my older sister's home. She was married with four children at the time, and both her and her husband worked. She was kind enough to pay me to baby-sit her children each day after school for about three hours. I can recall learning some of the same principles back then that I have heard Dr. James Dobson promote in his videos and books. For some reason, those training opportunities made an impression and seemed to stick with me through the years.

While attending college at Western Washington University I worked for the audio-visual department, showing films in various different classes during the day and evening. It was my job to carry the film projector, screen and film to a classroom, sit through the class, and, show the film at the command of the professor. About 75 percent of all the films were shown in psychology classes. Needless to say, by the time I graduated I had sat through hundreds of psychology classes. The majority of all the films shown covered some area of learning. When I was ready to start my teaching career I had no doubt at all about how to control the learning situation.

Of course my own children had the benefit of growing from infancy under the influence of my training techniques. I can remember times when I didn't do everything the way I should have, but those times were few. I have always enjoyed a challenge and that's how I took on the opportunity to train my children. Day-by-day, as they grew, without them knowing it, they were enrolled in the training program I had put together from all of the bits and pieces of information gathered as I progressed through my own life.

You may laugh at this next thought, or even scoff at it, but training children is not that different from training any animal. If you have ever tried training a dog you may have found that the most important ingredient is that of consistency. By being consistent, the poor animal begins to learn what to expect next, and how to react. Inconsistency introduces a psychological term known as variable interval reinforcement. Responses to variable interval reinforcement are nearly impossible to bring to a halt. By being inconsistent we make the job of training our children much more difficult for us as well as bringing much more confusion into their innocent lives.

I don't claim to have the final word on training children and I am even reluctant to express my views but I believe in them enough to share what I know. My methods have worked well in raising my children and I'm sure they can be helpful to many other young parents.