You pay attention to me, do what I tell you, because I said so. Amen.

Listen to me

When I first read John Rosemond's "rule of three" I felt that after months and months of debate, my concept of attention has finally been validated. This is how it goes:

1. I am the center of your attention. (You are not the center of my attention)
2. You do what I say. (You can disagree and we can discuss your ideas but you'll still do as I say)
3. Because I said so. (Not because it's good for you or because I threaten or bribe you or because I persuade you)

Update: It's been five years since I wrote this and now I find it a bit too harsh. There has got to be some give and take, it's not so black and white. It's not the military. OK, moving on...

A child can't learn from her parents if her parents pay more attention to her than she does to them. Just like a teacher can't teach children if he pays attention to the children and not the other way around. A teacher can't teach if he begs children to do something and has to validate everything he says. A teacher can only teach if he says: You children listen to me and do as I say, period. I'm not discussing with you the reasons behind my decision.

Although it's crucial that children pay attention to adults when we direct and teach them, it's just as crucial that adults pay attention to children when they explain, reason, show, ask, tell, etc. Children's stories and questions are no less important than what we have to say - for us it may be only little things but for them it's always big stuff, it's always all they have.

Trust

Before we can issue unconditional orders for our kids we must establish unconditional trust. Only then can a child become independent - if he knows that no matter what happens, under any and all circumstances the parents are there to love and to protect. "I don't love you because you have all A+ grades. I love you because you're my child."

Actually, apart from trust there is another way to get someone to do what we tell them to do: make them fear us. But we all know that this option is wrong, requires constant maintenance and it is a completely dead-end approach. Think of the differences between a good leader and a horrible boss. People obey them both but for very, very different reasons. Be a leader!