A philosophical approach by Cynthia Klein,
Parenting Coach and Educator
“How do I get my daughter / son to clean their room?”
“How do I get my kids to stop fighting?”
“How do I get my child to do their homework and stop chatting on the internet?”
Do you notice a pattern from these common questions parents ask? It is “how do I control my child to do what I want or to fulfill my expectations.” Control is the main focus rather than, “How do I improve the parent-child relationship?”
I believe control is an appropriate main focus when training an animal because your goal is for them to become dependent and respond to your commands not to become independent thinkers.
Independent thinking is highly valued in the United States. We want our children to be strong and not follow the crowd and be swayed by negative influences such as alcohol, drugs and promiscuity. We want them to make wise decisions when they we are not around. We want to constantly whisper our wise words in their ears.
The questions to ask yourself then become, “Are you teaching your children how to think about their life and how to make healthy decisions OR are you demanding that they spend most of their time responding to your needs?” To find the answer, ask yourself these questions; “How many minutes a day do I spend listening to my child so they can learn how to explore their beliefs and feelings and think about possible ways to solve their struggles? How many minutes a day do I tell them what to do, get annoyed or frustrated with their behavior or, without meaning to, criticize them?” Are you primarily teaching them how to think for themselves or how to follow orders?
Fear has taken over and has become the basis for many parental decisions. I often get asked “If I don’t tell them what to do, how will they make good decisions?” I believe the underlying message I am hearing is, I don’t have confidence in my child. I’m afraid s/he will make mistakes and I don’t want her to suffer because I love my child so much. I will suffer along with them and that’s too painful. We all have tremendous inner strength to draw upon. Have confidence that they are your children and that you show through your life how to become the master of obstacles.
Because the world is so challenging now, there is even a more urgent need to teach our children how to think. They need our unconditional love and support. We show this by listening to them, having dialogue with them and standing along side them as they make decisions then succeed or flounder and try again. We don’t abandon them. We still need to set guidelines to insure their safety. Yet I propose that you focus just as much, if not more, on learning how to listen so you can dialogue with your children. You build a relationship of mutual trust and respect by supporting them during challenging times which allow your children to open their hearts to your words of wisdom. They will bask in your love and build a solid foundation of self-confidence for their lifetime.
©2013 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 24 year-old children. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, cynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 679.8138 to learn more about creating the relationship you want with your children.