The Art of War and Raising Children

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Anyone that has been unable to experience the blessing of children might find war to be a bad analogy for child rearing. Those of us that are have lived through raising children may have forgotten how hard it was.  However, for those of us in the thick of it, war does not begin to tell the tale.

The Art of Raising Children

Sun Tzu wrote a book a few thousand years ago called “The Art of War.”  It provided dozens of situations related to war and how to approach them in a way that will improve chances of victory.  Although actual combat is a tad messier than raising children, the tactics Sun Tzu suggested can provide great insights.  I am not going to walk through them all, but they have provided me with several situations and recommendations for raising children.

Obviously, the direct references to war in Sun Tzu’s book have to be adjusted for non-war situations.  Some statements make sense in the family environment.  For example, when Sun Tzu provides advice regarding an enemy using fire, “When the enemy uses fire, run!”  The quote holds true when your children accidently burn down the house.  However, even the less direct applications of quotes are helpful.  The key concepts about winning through avoiding direct conflict are a perfect approach to parenting.

Defining the Sides

The biggest pitfall we run into with this analogy is identifying friendly and hostile forces.  The last few decades have shown us that parents that desire to make their children friends are unlikely to succeed.  Adult children can share a form of friendship with their parents, but even then there should always be a level of respect beyond traditional friendship.  Your best friend did not spend years wiping your butt and cleaning up your messes.

Do not be fooled by the fact that children rely on their parents.  They do not see this truth of life, nor are they above working together to thwart their parents.  Parents must work together if they are to have any success in raising children.  The alternative is that the kids end up raising themselves.  I have found through experience that treating of child rearing as a conflict of opposing sides is a useful approach.

In case you are curious, you can learn more about the classic “The Art of War” text here The Art Of War

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