If you have kids right now, anywhere between the ages of two and 18, how do you feel you’re doing as a parent?
Have you given them space to grow as individuals? Have you given them too much space?
Are you too restrictive and demanding?
Are you too easy… Trying to be their best friend?
Being a parent is tough work. If you think about it, no generation has got it right.
What did I just say?
As of today, no generation has got this whole parenting thing down. And that’s not a slight on any parent whatsoever, it’s just due to evolving times, the stresses that are with us today that weren’t with us 20, 30 or 40 years ago and many other factors.
I remember in 1980 when I moved in with my first girlfriend with a child, and I told her that I would be the best parent possible, but I wouldn’t be doing everything that my parents did with me when I was a kid.
And I think my parents did a damn good job, something I wouldn’t admit it until I was in my 30s. But still, there were many things that were done when I was a kid that you just wouldn’t do today… Or at least you shouldn’t do.
But here’s the paradox. Even though I told her at the dinner table I wouldn’t be a drill sergeant, making him eat every pea on his plate before he could leave to go play… Or to get dessert… Guess what?
As soon as he was able to start eating on his own, I turned into the dinner table Nazi. And I did exactly what I told her I would never do… Direct him, sternly at the dinner table.
That’s what my parents did, and that’s what their parents did, and they thought that they were all doing it correctly.
What that creates, in some kids are food eating disorders… In other kids anxiety… In other kids anger…
Using positive reinforcement
Now I’m not saying that you should allow your kids to eat candy bars at every meal if that’s the only thing they want to eat, but there’s a world of difference between forcing food down their throats, and using the “dinner time“ via negative reinforcement versus “dinner time“, as a positive experience.
Do you know what I mean? I eventually got it together, but it did take effort, because my subconscious mind had been filled with this drill sergeant attitude at the dinner table, and it took quite a while to break it. Once I broke it, the relationship between myself and her son grew immensely closer.
How about you? Can you look back at childhood and say there were certain things that your parents did that you would never do? And yet maybe you’re doing them today?
Let me give you another example-
Many of the parents that I work with one on one today from around the world via phone and Skype, make the same mistakes that their parents made when it comes to allowing their children to feel their deepest emotions.
In other words, if your daughter comes home in ninth grade, and she just had her first boyfriend, who left her today for her very best girlfriend, she’s going to be incredibly sad, hurt maybe even angry.
What most parents do in this case, is that they will tell their child “there are many other boys out there that will be much better for you than Jimmy… We never really liked Jimmy anyway… Don’t feel sad tomorrow’s a new day… You’ll get over this quicker than you know…“
And that ladies and gentlemen, moms and dads, is the very worst advice you could ever give your young daughter. The worst advice ever!
Because you’re not allowing her to feel… You’re not allowing her to express her emotions… And why is that?
Why are you not letting your child express her feelings?
Well one reason is because that’s what your mom and dad did to you, just like the example I gave above , whatever skills we were parented with, even if we say we will never do them, the odds are when we get into a stressful circumstance we’re going to knee jerk reaction it and go back to how our parents, parented us.
It’s simply a fact.
But it doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
So what should you do when your child comes home and they’ve been excluded from the clique they were part of? Or didn’t make the cheerleading squad? Or the band? Or the basketball team?
The most important thing is to allow them to speak, don’t take their pain away, don’t tell them everything is going to be OK… Because that’s an absolute lie.
Allow your child to express, to feel, to vent. Sit. Listen. And listen some more.
The other reason why parents tell their children everything is going to be OK, “you’ll find a better girlfriend or boyfriend, you’ll make the sports team next year don’t worry about this year…” Is because they don’t want to feel their child’s pain.
Not wanting your child to feel hurt
You see if your child is crying, or angry, or hurt… And you sit and say tell me more about what you’re feeling… You actually have to feel their pain.
And parents don’t want their children to hurt, so they come up with some type of a positive statement to shut the child down.
Let me repeat that, parents come up with a positive statement to shut their children down so they don’t have to feel their pain.
Do you understand that?
Allow your child to feel their feelings
The number one rule in becoming the best parent is to allow your children to feel, to be angry, to be sad, to feel alone… The more you allow your child to express their true feelings, the healthier they will grow up as young adults.
This kind of stuff isn’t easy, and many times we need to reach out to individuals like myself in order to get a clue of what we need to do differently to raise the healthiest kids possible.
Don’t wait another day, get professional help today, so you can get the Feedback necessary to give your kids the best chance at expressing and feeling emotions not only now, but for the rest of their lives.