Is it Parenting or Shoving it Down Their Throats?

In a recent conversation with a married couple, I was asked an interesting question: “Is it parenting or is it shoving it down her children’s throats?”

Some background: these two individuals are both successful professionals, and they both have been introduced and spent some time learning about “E+R=O.” This strategy is an acronym for Events plus Response equals Outcomes, and the “R” Factor developed by Tim Knight, (a strategy that focuses on the fact that we control our responses). The husband wanted to start using the concept and strategy in the family with his children. His wife did not because she felt, as stated in the title, they were “shoving it down their throat.” She posed her question to get my opinion: “don’t you think instilling ‘E+R=O’ in our family is forcing it on our children?”

It is an interesting question, and it is one that deserves contemplation. Since I did not have the opportunity to press pause and think about this question, I quickly reflected on what other “things” my children would perceive that Monica and I “shoved down their throats.” We ask them to brush their teeth every day after breakfast and before going to school. For years we’ve made them do their homework after school and before other activities. We insist they be young gentlemen and a lady by standing to say hello, shake hands firmly and use their please and thank yous. So my response to her was “No, I believe that as parents, we insist that our children learn and adopt certain behavior and practices. In doing so, we increase their probability of success in life.”

Of course, the argument didn’t end there. She argued that those are simple routine items, but with E+R=O, “I feel like I’m forcing them to think a certain way I don’t agree with.” By teaching them E+R+O you are giving your children a tool to “press pause” and apply thought to the outcome they want to achieve, thereby increasing the likelihood of a more positive outcome. You are teaching your children to take the time to apply their own experiences and decisions, instead of responding emotionally.

In my judgment, it’s part of teaching children responsibility. It’s not “forcing it down their throat.” Instead, it’s something you choose as parents because you believe it’s important for them to understand and use as a tool. Don’t forget to look at your values and see if this fits what you’ve been trying to teach them about living your family values. If it does, then I go back to that it’s the way you’ve chosen to parent, and most important, parent intentionally.

Imperfect Parenting


For more helpful information and guidance on parenting, check out our bookpocket guideblog, and downloadable parenting resources.

Author: Dale W. Vernon
Dale, a business and investment advisor and professed imperfect father of three children, is co-author of How Imperfect Parents Lead Great Families. He is a frequent speaker about the importance of establishing family values, creating a culture of communication in your home and being an intentional parent that understands the importance of being the best example you can for your children.
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