Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stepping back in parenting (just a little)


I know that when my kids were little I often felt that I had no power.  The endless tantrums proved this to be true.  But I could basically keep pushing the kids to behave in a way that I deemed appropriate (with varying degrees of success).  A lot of time was (and is still) spent in correction of behaviour.

The question that is now starting to challenge me is how do you start to step back from that approach as they get older?  

I was having a long, painful discussion with my teenager yesterday about what I thought he should do with a project he had to present in class today.  The discussion was getting fraught and we were going around in circles.  In my heart, I just felt that I probably had a pretty good idea of what the teacher was expecting from him, and I didn't want him to get disappointed with the outcome.

As we were talking I decided that I needed to stop hassling him.  He had to work it out for himself, take responsibility for that decision and deal with the disappointment that might come from that.  I realised that my job in that scenario was to offer input, seriously work hard to respect his decision and then offer love and comfort (rather than 'I told you so') if the outcome was negative.

A few times recently I've reflected on the fact that what I want from my home is love, support, encouragement, people who are on your side and the occasional (but very occasional) bit of tough love.   As my kids leave the house each day they deal with teachers who are telling them what they're doing wrong all day, music teachers who are correcting them, peers who are hassling them, sport coaches who are pushing them.

I still need to encourage at times (rather than totally checking out), but I need to remember I'm not the only person in their lives pushing.  My feeling is that I need to be careful that I'm spending more time at the "I think you're great" end of the spectrum rather than my tendency towards the "why aren't you doing X or Y?" (ie. critical) end.

It's hurting my head!

2 comments:

Kath said...

It's a balancing act isn't it?
I like your decision to focus on the encouragment and support, it's easy to skip that bit without intending to.

Karen said...

Thank you for this reminder, much appreciated. I have a tendency to spend a bit too much time on the critical end of the spectrum myself here and I need people to remind me frequently of the need to be more encouraging...