Whether we are completing cycle on a school year, summer break, a holiday season or a major life event, we continually walk with our children through closures and the excitement of new adventures to come. In that process, what are parents really doing at the heart of their job? Is it about grades, passing tests, holiday decorating or getting the perfect gift? No. It’s about guiding our children along the pathway of growing up. It’s about love. Little by little they will shoulder more responsibility and take more ownership for their choices and their lives. This is usually done gradually over the course of their first 18-19 years.
Know that growing up unfolds differently for each child. Plot a steady and loving course for each of your children, changing things as needed along the way. Avoid comparing one child to another. Celebrate the successes of each child. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, gifts and struggles.
At the end of each season, it is nice to take some time to reflect on how much your child has grown and matured over that time. It’s not about where they “should” be at this age or stage, but where they are compared to where they were. Look at who they were in August when school started, for instance, and who they are in June as they close that chapter. They have probably grown a lot in those months! You may see areas where you would like to see more improvement in your children. That’s okay. Hopefully you are also seeing areas where they excelled far beyond where you thought they would be. How much do they grow in between birthdays? Some years the growth is more obvious than others. In those less obvious years, know that growth is still happening.
Life comes in seasons. Allow the seasons to take their course and gently course correct as you go. There is a lot of pressure in school these days. Make home a place of nurturing. Celebrate the successes and the growth. Actually talk to your children and point out what they have accomplished. Ask them what they are most proud of about their own growth over the year. What a wonderful gift to give your child, that they get noticed and celebrated! It’s okay to make a note about areas to work on as well. Create a plan to implement and then let it go and enjoy where you are today! Growth will take place.
Having two teenagers at home, I am constantly aware of the fact that I am raising young adults, not necessarily “children” anymore. I’m often evaluating how my choices are affecting them, noticing what choices they are making and what they have learned from the seeds we have been planting over the years. We course correct on a regular basis. More importantly, we talk about things openly and often. We have had our fair share of challenges over the years, as every family does. What I have come to realize is the trust we have built from day one has been our saving grace. If you want a door into your child’s world, create trust. There are ways to begin doing that, no matter what age they are right now. I can’t think of a better investment of your time. It will pay you back in spades.
Remember that you are a guide. We are here to give our children roots, challenge them to grow and give them resources to succeed and contribute in life. There are a lot of ups and downs along the way. Teach them how to travel that road with grace. Ultimately, the destination is love. If you need some assistance on that path, I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation, as well as other services. Simply call 951-240-1407 or email me to schedule your complimentary appointment. You can also sign up for our free newsletter to receive tips and insights throughout the month. It is my pleasure to serve families and bridge gaps to more fulfilling parent-child relationships. Enjoy!
Traci L. Williams is the Founder of A Loving Way to Parent. She is known for her practical and intuitive parenting style. alovingway.com