Recently a friend who is also a neurologist was relaying a conversation she had with her daughter about parenting. The daughter is of a ‘tween’ age where she is starting to push back and question parental guidance and boundaries; a common and appropriate developmental stage.
Our friend had wise words to share with her child…
When we send you to tennis lessons, fencing lessons, to dance class or art camp, we send you to environments that have experts who can teach you specific skills; ones that we don’t have. Those teachers give you building blocks for success, and mastery of those skill.
Just like extra curricular activities, our job as parents is to give you the building blocks for success and mastery in life. We are responsible for teaching you how to successfully transition from childhood, to young adults, to mature adults. That is our skill to teach, even if we don’t always get it right.
I was impressed. And it got me thinking about the filters our children apply to us. What is their narrative around us as individuals, and our authority and expertise to act as teachers in their development?
Kids can’t help but apply a filter of ‘right or wrong’ when they don’t like what they hear us say, or the ground rules we enforce to ensure their safety and development. What they don’t comprehend is that we are the stewards of their future success – guiding them down a sometimes bumpy road to social and emotional intelligence.
So how do we get them to understand? What conversations can we have with our kids around their filters? How can we change the narrative that we are simply trying to ‘make their lives difficult’? The answer could be as simple as regular conversation. Honest communication when things are going right, not a ‘heat of the moment’ argument. Really talking to our kids about the long term value of tough love. Being a parent now so we can be friends as adults.
Consider also how aligned you are with your partner. Do you support each other unequivocally; regardless or whether you agree or not? Do the two of you present a united front? If not your kids will know it… and they will divide and conquer! Be aware, and get on the same page when it comes to your parenting strategy. How you and your parter work as a team (or not) is a lesson you will unconsciously pass down to your children.
This relationship provides the narrative (and filter) for how your children engage, respect and speak to you and others. Give them the gift of consistent and unified parenting.