Many parents take the route of control to keep their kids safe and in line. They can do this when their kids are young because adults are bigger, stronger and more powerful. However, as kids grow up, they become the bigger, stronger and more powerful person, which creates problems. Control is not the answer.
Raising kids is not just about the first 18 years and getting them out the door with good grades and a tentative plan for the future. It’s about a long-term relationship and an internal compass that is being cultivated along the way. As they embark on adult life, your wisdom and skills will be helpful, if your child trusts and respects you.
When parents are mostly focused on work and planning for the future, they can miss the important and connecting things that happen each day. While working and planning are necessary, it is also important to make sure that your family values and priorities line up so you are passing something meaningful to the generations that follow.
A great exercise I would encourage you to do with your children is to ask: “If you could change anything in our family, what would it be, and why?” Start understanding who they are and what drives them. Come alongside them in both the joys and challenges of their life. Don’t push on school (in-person or distance learning) without being willing to sit down and understand what isn’t working for them. Then problem-solve together how to resolve that issue. This is how they pick up critical thinking skills (instead of learning to simply conform or feel like a victim) and how you create a relationship that makes you the go-to person for life.
Respectful conversations are the key to healthy relationships. Remember not to judge your child for their choices, but to instead ask them questions about those choices. Don’t shut them down for ideas you don’t agree with; instead, try to understand their perspective. Get curious. Be interested. Listen to understand. Today’s kids and teens need to be heard more than ever. Be the one who listens now, and you will be the one they listen to later. Control is a temporary fix. Building a relationship is a gift that lasts a lifetime.
Traci L. Williams is the Founder of A Loving Way to Parent. She is known for her intuitive and practical approach to parenting. Schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation to find out how she can support your family! Contact Traci directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 951-240-1407.