This article is published in the April 2013 issue of Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. Part 1 of 3.
How often have you said the same words to your daughter or son over and over with the same results? The results are that there is no desired change. Maybe your words had an impact when they were younger but now they are ignoring you more and questioning your authority. These middle-school-age symptoms mean it’s time for some creative parenting.
Creative parenting is the ability to respond flexibly to the changing developmental stages and family dynamics. Remember those books by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Your One-Year-Old, Your Six-Year-Old, and then she had to write a book spanning four years which she titled Your Ten-to-Fourteen-Year-Old. All predictable year-by-year developmental changes no longer applied. These unpredictable years require parents to be flexible, self-reflective and to learn new parenting skills.
Michael Riera, PhD, author of Uncommon Sense for Parents of Teenagers explains that the changes that start during middle school require parents to shift from being a manager to being a consultant in order to respond to the emerging teen’s needs. “Clearly teenagers see their parents as helpful and caring through childhood, and as intrusive, mistrustful and controlling in adolescence. Without notification and without consensus, you are fired from the role of manager. You must work your tail off to get hired as a consultant.”
Thinking like a consultant requires a fundamental shift from the goal of parenting by control to parenting with influence. Your middler may still seem young and you may feel like you still need to keep the control. However, if you are hearing, “You don’t understand”, “You think I can’t do it myself” or “I’m not a little kid anymore”, then it’s time to shift your thinking. If you resist this shift, your emerging teen will put up a protective wall because you are being too intrusive. The key is to change your thinking before the protective wall becomes permanent. Continue reading part 2 here.
©2013 Cynthia Klein has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with dads, moms and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking, webinars, and private parent coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the magazine Parenting on the Peninsula. Contact Cynthia at bridges 2 understanding, bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com or call 650. 341.0779.