I’m sure that most of you have heard the story of Rachel Canning. She is the teen who was suing her parents! How can we avoid ever being in that same situation? To help us with this question, I have recruited Freddy Baez, an LCSW-R, (Social Worker) and former CASAC who works at Full Circle Health in NYC. Mr. Baez is an adjunct professor, a Reverend, and a mentor for an organization that helps rehabilitate young offenders.
On a more personal note, this is a man who kept me alive during a period that I no longer wanted to be here. During my teen years, I was gang banging, fighting, confused, and a depressed mess. I credit this man with being instrumental in my recovery. He is deeply religious, and believes that God works in mysterious ways to get us where we need to be. He feels it was God’s plan that we would meet. I am extremely blessed to still have him in my life, and I will always appreciate him and his advice.
Following are three simple, basic tips from Freddy Baez that can mean the difference between a child that respects and loves you, or a child who attempts to sue you!
Talk to your kids!
Mr. Baez put it quite succinctly, “What you give your time to, has your heart!” In this age of nannies, day care, and late work hours, it is easy to forget the basics! Mr. Baez says that there is no substitute for face time, you cannot take any shortcuts with your kids! You must deliberately plan the time to get to know your child! Mr. Baez emphasized that you cannot take a cookie-cutter approach with children. What worked for one child won’t necessarily work for another. Make the deliberate effort to study your child face to face. His last words on this point were “You reap what you sow!”
Encourage their passion!
My son loves to draw. It is not only my job, but my pleasure to enable his art. When my son shows me a finished drawing, I can see his passion come to life! When kids are occupied with their passion, it keeps them away from inappropriate behavior. This is important all across the board, but even more crucial in higher-risk areas. Mr. Baez believes that parents invest time, effort, and money when it matters most, or that they can make the investment later in life under unpleasant circumstances. Save for college, but make an effort to invest in the kids when they are young, or you can do it in court, or counseling when they are older.
Teach by example!
Do as I say, not as I do. Not to sound cliche, but I believe that actions speak louder than words. Do you want to have an honest child? Then be an honest person. Our children are sponges, and they absorb what they see. Mr. Baez asked a simple question, “Can you honestly say that you are a person of integrity?” He believes that the quickest way to damage a relationship with a child is a lack of integrity.
Mr. Baez gave me an example regarding this specific topic. He shared about one time when his son called his little sister stupid. Mr. Baez pulled his son aside and asked him “Have you ever heard me insult or curse at your mother or sister?” His son replied that he had not, Mr. Baez then asked him why he felt he had the right to talk down to his sister when his elder would never do something like that? Recognizing that his actions were wrong, his son bowed his head in shame. How we teach by example, is simply to be the example.
Following these basic, yet often forgotten essential tips can help make your life as a parent much more pleasant. You might even be able to stay out of court! Do you have any tips for us? Please share them in the comment section!
FYI, that’s not my child in the picture, that’s my little sister. However, I helped raise her, and she never sued us, neither has my son. LOL.