Parenting with the end in mind
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
School has geared up. This means if you are a parent emotions with your child may be running high. Just the other day I was talking with some friends about the tears their kids have had since school has started. Kids often feel the stress of homework, sport and club expectations and even friendship battles. So what is the right thing to do when your kids come home crying that their homework is hard or that their friends are being mean?
I like to think about parenting with the end in mind when we are in a stressful situation. By keeping focused on what kind of character I want my kids to have when they leave my home and move into their own, I can think more objectively about what my response should be. Parents often react without thinking about what character traits they are teaching by their response. A simple question to keep in the back of your mind is “What are my actions and language teaching at this moment?”
Consider the scenario where a child comes home from school and shares, through many tears, that their teacher is unfair. Many parents would wrap their arms around their child and tell them that they will call the school tomorrow. Others would tell their child that it can’t be all that bad and they should give it some time, things may get better. So what do those responses teach? If we can get to the point in parenting that we are responding more thoughtfully to situations, we will begin to see the qualities we are hoping for in our kids.
If my child complains when they have to do chores I thoughtfully acknowledge their feelings and then thank them for doing it anyway. I am teaching responsibility, the ability to do what we need to do even if we don’t like it. If I bargain or engage in long conversation with them when they complain, I have just reinforced the idea that manipulation is acceptable.
Many of us are trained to run from pain. We don’t know how to handle disappointment and heartache, and we are teaching our children the same thing. If we let them feel pain, consequences to their actions, unfair or unloving behavior from their friend, disappointment in not making the team, we are also allowing them to work through the disappointment and come out stronger on the other side. What kind of character does disappointment build? They may begin to understand they are capable of handling all of life’s ups and downs. Maybe they learn that they have control over their life and so are happier and are able to make their life what they want it to be, instead of being manipulated by others.
YouthZone works with families every day that ask those very questions and have the courage to walk through their pain to find that not only have they learned some things, but so has their child. Call anytime if you are a parent who wants to know more about how to parent with the end in mind.
Lori Mueller is YouthZone program director.
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