A young client asked me a question the other day that reminded me of what I used to do when I was that young parent. She asked me, “What is just one piece of advice you would give as a parent?” That is a loaded question! LOL It took a long time to explain my answer, so here it is:
PARENTS MAKE THE MISTAKE OF LIVING IN ONE EXTREME OR THE OTHER
When we as parents are either on the extreme of being controlling and strict or on the other extreme of being way to lenient it doesn’t bode well for our kids. Let me explain.
It doesn’t take a genius to recognize our kids will rebel when we are too controlling, so you’d think all parents would catch that and refrain, but they don’t. It’s human nature to want freedom so we will do whatever it takes to get it, so if you are a controlling parent who is way to strict recognize it and make some necessary changes so you don’t have kid who is spiraling out of control. Let them make decisions. Give them options. Let consequences fall unless their choice is going to harm others or themselves. Then we obviously need to step in, but in a general sense we are teaching our kids how to be confident adults when we give them some room.
The other extreme of being the “Oh, it’s fine,” parent is the one that isn’t so obvious to spot. When we don’t have clear expectations of our kids and let them just run amuck they begin to feel very insecure!
Some will just shut down. Some will be out of control so they can find your line. Is it here when I scream at you? Is it here when I sleep with my boyfriend or girlfriend? Is it here when I smoke pot? Is it here when I fail school? Or is it here when I run the show and demand to have my selfish way all the time?
What I have seen to be most helpful is to live fluctuating in the middle back and forth a little between correction and grace. We make the decision which one we will choose based on their history of patterns, what we see this behavior turning into as an adult, if they are a pain in the butt to live with, etc.
Our kids are smart! Sit down with them and discuss what you expect in a kind but clear way. Ask their forgiveness for the mistakes you’ve made so far and then explain why you are making some changes. Those reasons have to revolve around, “This will not benefit you later in life just like it is not benefitting you now.”
Our parenting style should not revolve around what makes us comfortable. It needs to revolve around what is best for them and sometimes what is best for them is some very steep consequences for bad behavior. We raise assets, not liabilities. We raise people who bring a lot of good things to the table in every aspect of their lives. We do not want to raise liabilities that only create hell for those around them, right?
So think about a few things:
- Ask yourself, “Is this behavior going to benefit them later in life or even now?” Then adjust accordingly.
- Ask others around you what patterns they see in you as a parent. Then adjust accordingly.
- Sit down and talk to (NOT AT) your kids about what you’re seeing. Apologize for not doing something about it sooner. Then express your clear expectations along with why you have them. (Hint: It’s for their benefit.)
- Ask other parents: What are some things you did right and what are some things you did wrong and why?
As usual, thank you for wanting to be a better parent. Your kids thank you for it 🙂