In all of my years of coaching parents, one thing stands out clearly. They all love their kids and they have tried as hard as they can to ensure their children have a great life. I have heard many stories of how parents want 'to give my kids a better life than I had growing up'. This is a great sentiment and very well intentioned, however, it does not have the intended result.
We all want our children to have positive traits such as wisdom, courage, strength of character, perseverance, etc. However, these are not traits we are born with. These traits are learned through life experience and trials and tribulation. Let's look at two of the traits that I mentioned:
Wisdom - this is a virtue that can only be acquired through experience. You have to make a choice and go through the process of learning to gain wisdom. You learn as much as possible from your choice, analyze the outcome, and apply what you have learned. Wisdom comes from making mistakes!
Courage - the only way to develop courage is to face your own personal fears or uncomfortable situations. It takes many people a life time to develop this and practice it. Courage means standing your ground, never backing down when you know you are right, and being willing to sacrifice yourself for others. Courage is only developed in the face of opposition!
Parents as Life Coaches
So what does this tell us about parenting? After all, our job as parents is to be their Life Coach! Our job is to prepare them for the real world. Does your home environment function like the real world? Does it provide the correct learning opportunities, struggles, the making of mistakes, and allowing them to struggle to overcome their mistakes?
Or does the home environment function as a sort of prison, parents always watching, monitoring their every move, constantly checking their grades, meeting with teachers, checking their text messages, monitoring their email or online activity; in essence, parents waiting to 'pounce' when they make a mistake and rush in to figure out how to fix it?
Children need room to learn and grow, make mistakes, and figure out how to fix it. They DO NOT need you to do it for them. They DO NOT need you to lecture them, they already know what they have done wrong. They DO NOT need you to rush in with a plan, they are capable of making their own plan. Do we see a pattern here? Let's apply this to real life. You as the parent have a job. You are at work one day and you make a mistake. Your boss discovers this mistake and he can handle it in two ways.
One way is he brings the mistake to your attention, you discuss what occurred and how to fix it, and the boss departs and allows you to handle it because he knows that you are an intelligent human being and will figure it out. This boss is a leader, a great coach, and admired by his co-workers.
The second way is the boss discovers your mistake, slams through your office door, and begins to tell you how disappointed he is, possibly screaming, and brings in a team to fix the problem, shaming you in the process. Which scenario would you prefer? Which scenario do you think your child would prefer?
My advice: STOP making your children's lives comfortable and easy! They NEED to struggle to build self-confidence, self-esteem, independence, and a belief in themselves! Allow them to make mistakes and calmly coach them through, using very little words, letting them do all the work. You are a COACH, not a prison guard! Stop 'fixing' things for them! Your child comes home with a F on their report card.
How do you respond? Do you jump to punishment, yelling, taking away privileges, etc. or do you talk with them (not AT them), to discover what is going on and how you can help? EMPOWER your children to do great things! Your 15 year old just got a job but can't drive yet? Awesome!
They can ride a bike to work or take the bus! If it is farther than 10 miles to work or there is no bus system, you can be in agreement to drive them as long as they pay for the gas and your time! Teach them to be INDEPENDENT, not dependent on you!!! Give them wings and teach them to FLY!!!!!
More about Wendy Riddle: Wendy has 21 years of rich experience working with struggling teens and their families. Wendy's calling is to assist parents in finding the peace and restoration that they seek to heal and live a happy and healthy life. Known for her welcoming and friendly personality, Wendy can connect to families on a personal level to help them find the answers they need. Click here to see Wendy's bio.