There is an ancient African Proverb that says too much tolerance paves the way for trouble.
Jacob Zuma and the ANC are reaping an abundant harvest of trouble from their children's group leader, Julius Malema.
There are some great lessons for us on how NOT to raise our children.
It revolves around drawing lines in the sand and implementing consequences.
Like all successful organizations the ANC has principles and rules. The rules are kind of fuzzy - as they should be - and the rules are rigid and fairly specific.
The principles espoused by the ANC are found in the Freedom Charter. The first principle after the preamble says, ""the people shall govern."" This is fuzzy in meaning in that it does not define how the people shall govern - there many different forms of government! It says simply that everyone shall have the right to vote for candidates to be elected to bodies that make laws, in other words the rules.
In our parenting at home, we should also have a type of Freedom Charter, a statement that sets out the vision of the family, and the core principles by which the family functions. The creation of the core principles of each family are naturally the responsibility of the parents. These principles should guide and direct the creation of the rules and the laws that regulate the conduct of family members as they grow up.
For instance a rule that says children must be in bed by 7:30pm at night is fine for seven year olds, but totally inappropriate for teenagers and even tweens. By the way this rule is so counter productive for ADHD children it should never be used! The best way is to insist that the child has enough sleep to get through the next day, but that is a topic for another article.
Laws and rules, whether in government or at home set out the definition of what is not acceptable, in other words these are the lines in the sand. If you cross this line, break this rule or law, there will be consequences.
The core principles and rules of each family are theirs and theirs alone. I am not talking about whether they are right or wrong, but only that they belong to each individual family that created them.
Laws and rules require a huge bureaucracy to operate effectively; someone to police the rules, someone to prosecute the offenders, someone to pronounce on their guilt or innocence, and then somone to guard the convicts while they serve their sentence. For a family this akin to a draconian police state of the worst possible kind.
It is at this point where everything can go wrong, and usually does. The saga of Julius Malema and Jacob Zuma is a classic case in point.
If you have rules, and a set of consequences that must be imposed if they are broken, then you must implement the consequences, every single time, not only part of the time. You see, if you say to a family member that if this line is crossed then this will happen, then it must happen, every time the line is crossed.
If you don't, the child immediately says I don't believe you, so I'm not going to listen to you. That quickly progresses to a complete loss of respect for the parents, and finally into anarchy.
Julius Malema learnt early on that his breaking of the rules would be tolerated by Zuma and others with no consequences. He has now lost all respect for the ANC and their rules, and only a very divisive and painful intervention is going to end the stand off. If that doesn't happen now, the child will run everything, something children are not equipped to do. (He has of course now left the ANC and is leader of The EFF, and an even bigger thorn in the side of the ANC)
What is required at the outset is that the parents create laws and rules that are reasonable, appropriate, and that empower the family to reach their goals. The consequences should follow the LADD® ""Four S's,"" Short, Sharp, Suitable, and Steadfast when creating consequences.
The parent must be prepared to implement the consequences everytime any rule is broken with no exceptions.
Raising children is probably the most difficult job in the world. It's never been easy, and never will be. Adopting a set of principles to guide you, having only the bare minimum of rules, and constructive consequences that are implemented every time, will make your job much easier - not easy - and you will probably avoid having behaviour like that displayed by Julius in your home.
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