While I was doing my 30 minutes on the elliptical one day last week, I tried to find something worth watching on TV and ended up watching an ancient episode of Lassie. I was blown away at the parenting techniques used by the dad of Lassie’s owner, Timmy, a young boy of about seven.
In the show, Timmy overheard two boys on his baseball team planning to deceive their coach so one of them could pitch the opening game of the season. One of the boys saw Timmy nearby and realized he had probably heard what they had discussed and threatened Timmy if he told anyone. Timmy struggled to sleep that night but finally got up to tell his father:
"Well, what is it son?"
"Well, I heard something today at practice. I wasn't spying or anything. It was sort of accidental like."
"Well, do you want to talk about it?"
"Well, Jim told Bob he'd give him his old bicycle if Bob would pretend he had a sore arm, so Jim could pitch the first game. Bob didn't see me but Jim did."
"Did Bob agree to this ... deal?"
"He said he would."
"Did you report this to Mr. Campanella?"
His father’s response to hearing the story was, “Well, this is a pretty sad situation. What do you intend to do about it?”
"Jim said if I told anybody I'd be a yellow-squealer. And besides nobody would believe me against him and Bob. And he said he'd be sure Lassie wouldn't get to be mascot."
"Timmy, you know that it's wrong to offer a bribe. And you know that it's just as wrong to accept a bribe. And if nothing is done about this, the whole team will suffer. And a team isn't just one man."
"Do you think I should tell Mr. Campanella?"
And this is his dad's amazing answer:
"It doesn't matter what I think. It's what you think. You know what honesty means. And loyalty."
"Then what should I do?"
"You should do what you feel is right. This is your team. And it's your problem. And it's your decision."
That was it…no advice, no prompting Timmy to work through a decision, just a simple, “I have faith in you. You will make a good decision.” Timmy went to his bed, still couldn’t sleep and got out of bed to pray. Then he went to sleep. Later in the episode the parents were getting in their truck to go watch the game and Timmy’s mom asked his dad, “I wonder what Timmy decided to do?” And his dad responded, “I guess we will find out soon.” And they got in the truck.
I was shocked. But impressed. They trusted their son to make the right decision to tell the coach what he had overheard but didn’t pressure him either way. Timmy had to make the decision on his own and would have had to reap the consequences of whatever decision he made. This is incredible parenting and highlights the trust the parents had in their son and their willingness to put the responsibility squarely on him. This is not how we tend to parent our children today. We gravitate to one of two extremes; either we micromanage and hover or we ignore until something really awful happens and then get angry. But Timmy’s dad shows us there is a better way, and it’s somewhere above the middle.
When we pull apart this parenting technique, we find five main principles:
And it starts with making wise decisions yourself, teaching right from wrong at an early age, loving deeply, and being available daily to communicate.
Anything else that comes to mind to help our children become responsible? Please post your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!
Article by Ruth Grunstra
All Rights Reserved
4/4/2016 01:47:41 am
Great advice. I wish we still had shows like Lassie. It's actually rare to find one where a man is dispensing wisdom. Most show the man as the stupid, but lovable, husband/dad. I think that image has had an impact on the way men see themselves in their home. Thanks for sharing.
4/4/2016 05:03:14 am
I agree. I was just blown away by the patient wisdom of the dad and the faith he showed in his son. It really made me think about how I parent. I tend to use this type of "putting it back on my child" to teach responsibility when they are older, but not 7! So the principle works at later ages too, but maybe should be considered at much younger ages. You can try it out and let me know how it goes!
4/4/2016 09:44:33 pm
Well stated. Not surprising though as you have such clarity in parenting and have fully invested yourself in living these principles and giving parenting the import and energy it requires and deserves! I'm so pleased that you are giving your time and talent to share your insights and experience with others, and have the courage to post it publicly where it may touch someone in need and bless a child. These simple, time-tested principles have the power to prevent some tragic traumatic consequences that I witness all too often in my work with children in residential treatment. Thanks for sharing!
4/7/2016 11:49:37 am
Thanks for taking time to post a comment Jana...and you're right, I'm doing this to hopefully help a mom or dad or other caregiver get a little more perspective and get a few ideas to help with areas where they struggle.
4/6/2016 04:07:27 pm
This is really good! I needed to hear this today. Thanks!
4/7/2016 11:51:07 am
Thanks Jan! I'm really glad it helped...just watching the show helped me! I was so amazed.
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