IMPULSE BUY: something a shopper buys on impulse, having had no previous intention of doing so.
There’s a reason the stores put so many items near the register. Having seen them, we will want them. Often, that is all the motivation we will need to purchase something. The stores’ hope is that this will become a habit.
Your children also notice these items. And, if it becomes a pattern on your part to purchase something to pacify your child, then this behavior will be reinforced for both of you. Your child got what he wanted. And you got a reprieve from a potential tantrum.
What your child has learned is this: if I make a threat of undesirable behavior, Dad or Mom will give me what I want!
Let’s face reality, we are all selfish, lazy critters. Wouldn’t we all prefer to have whatever we want, whenever we want it? Wouldn’t we all like to call the shots in our life without having to submit to anyone or anything else? Of course we would. The Bible calls this sin and it’s just as true for your wonderful child as it is for that wonderful person in your mirror.
For example, your child will learn that when he can wear Mom or Dad down enough, then they will give in. Or, if he gives them the choice between what he wants to do and some worse behavior, Dad and Mom will usually give him what he wants – “choosing the lesser of two evils”.
Why do parents give in? Well, there’s a variety of reasons. We love our children and we want to “make them happy”. But, I think if we truly examined why we give in so easily, I think we’d say because it pays off in the short-term – no more whining which means relief for my headache.
The “impulse buy” approach to parenting functions for the short-term. So, what’s the problem? When this is our default pattern, then we are not parenting. Contrariwise, our children are in charge. When children are permitted to be in charge, then the family is not functioning properly. This is called a dysfunctional family.
Let me illustrate why. A truck can pull a trailer down the highway at 70 mph quite easily, because it is designed to work that way. The truck leads the trailer and determines every aspect of speed and direction. That truck can even push that trailer in reverse at low speeds, but this is more difficult. Now, if that truck attempts to push that trailer in reverse at 70 mph, then there will be severe damage to the trailer and truck both, because it was never intended to work that way. The trailer is not capable of leading the truck.
In the same way, families which permit the children to be in charge were never intended to work that way, and there will be severe damage to the family as a whole, as well as to each individual.
This is part of why Scripture commands us:
“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22.6).
"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you” (Exodus 20.12).
“Fathers, bring up [your children] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6.4).
The word we translate as discipline in Ephesians 6.4 is an active verb, and is defined as follows:
1) the whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and
punishment) It also includes the training and care of the body
2) whatever in adults also cultivates the soul, esp. by correcting mistakes and curbing passions
2a) instruction which aims at increasing virtue
2b) chastisement, chastening, (of the evils with which God visits men for their amendment)
Therefore, if we, as parents, will be obedient to these verses, then we will cultivate our child(ren)s' hearts and minds through commands, rebukes, reprimands and punishments, to correct mistakes and curb their passions for the purpose of training and education to increase virtue. In other words, we will actively discourage their own sinful desires by clear instruction and boundaries. When they defy those instructions and cross those boundaries, then that is when the rebukes, reprimands and punishments come into play.
The other half of this training and education involves encouraging virtuous behaviors and attitudes. Accept and reward what you want to see again. Refuse to accept what you do not want to see again. Then, put a price tag on that unacceptable behavior and make it higher than the child is willing to pay.
Here's the bottom line. The parent is to maintain control at all times, never relinquishing control to the child(ren). However, the parent must balance this control with love for the child. I call this style of parenting, "The Benevolent Dictator."