Someone once said having a child is like wearing your heart on the outside of your body. It’s true, there is nothing we love, want to protect/help/nurture more than our own children. But often, especially during the growing independence of the teen years, those things look [and feel] a lot more like control than help to our adolescents.
Eye rolling, back talk, deliberate door slamming, ignoring curfew…all of these behaviors (and more) can signal a parent/child relationship that is rooted in power struggle, rather than in connection. You can tell this is going on in your home if you are seeing and hearing a lot of resistance, or if there is little eye contact and communication between you and your adolescent.
So, what’s a parent to do? How can we accomplish housework, homework…job applications…college applications…appointments…the chores that need to get done when your kid won’t cooperate with you?
Conscious parenting is the approach I have taken with my own children, who range in age from 11-29 years of age. Think of conscious parenting as a tightrope walk between sharing the life skills you want to instill in your child as they grow up (healthy nutrition, sleep habits, listening to their intuition, loving without condition), and stepping aside to support and encourage them when they are going to, or needing to, experience life as a result of their own thoughts, choices, and actions. Parenting this way has worked well for all of the different stages and temperaments of my five kids over the past several years.
Tell me more about what conscious parenting is…Parenting consciously means being aware of whether I am spending too much time and emotional energy invested in my child’s life that’s more about me, than about my child walking his or her own journey, with me by their side.
It’s knowing when my child’s behavior is emotionally triggering me, and questioning where that (usually frustration/fear/anxiety/disappointment) comes from, instead of reacting to my child directly in the moment. It’s the understanding I don’t know, nor am I in control of, the journey my child is on…the best I can provide him or her is an environment that allows them to grow at their own pace, while instilling the practical tools and life skills (such as sleep habits, nutrition, stability in the home, listening to their inner voice) that will help them to flourish.
Let me share a concrete example from our home…
My son Brigham recently left home for his freshman year of college. He was responsible for making the decision about where to attend, his dorm roommate, working out the details with his roommate, choosing a meal plan, registering for his classes, checking out any extra sports activities and clubs he may have interest in. I did choose his bedding…because he had no interest in doing so. We’ll work together to pay the tuition, but he understands he will need to have a job during his schooling, which will be his to find, as he did during high school.
Brigham knows I am always only a phone call away if he wants to talk through a challenge, needs something sent from home, or just wants to hear a friendly voice. I won’t be checking his grades, or calling him to see what he’s up to. Our relationship has operated increasingly this way since middle school, and it will continue forward as he heads into his next step.
I am available to listen to and love Brigham right where he’s at. THAT’S CONSCIOUS PARENTING! Because it allows Brigham to write his own path and become his own person, with me as his partner for support and encouragement along the way.
Shifting from “I’m the parent, you’re the child…therefore I know better” (dominant) style of parenting, to one of hand-in-hand listening to your inner voice, while helping your child to do the same (peace-of-mind parenting) is the way to create harmony and function in home life!
I know what you’re thinking…
That all sounds wonderful Kim, but how do I actually ACCOMPLISH that?!
To be this parent, “guiding” instead of trying to exert control or insisting you know best in their life, you will first need to take a good, honest inventory of the way you were parented, and how the patterns and coping skills you learned, or inherited, is influencing the relationship you have with your adolescent today. Because, believe me, there is a correlation!
After the look back, you’ll need to learn and practice several new practical techniques which will allow you to build trust into the relationship with your son or daughter. The key to this shift is to be willing and able to look at, and question the energy and attitude you bring into the every day relationship with your child.
Does this sound intriguing? Want to learn more about parenting hand-in-hand, instead of trying to control the show? Then schedule a FREE 30 minute CONSULTATION now!
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