That’s what I used to think. I’m the parent and it’s my responsibility to control my child.
This did not go well at all with my strong-minded, unwavering daughter, since it seemed her main purpose in life was to do things her own way. She did not want to be controlled by anyone, especially me. She dug in her heels and fought any attempt on my part to control her. It seemed we were in power struggles way too much of the time.
Before becoming a mother, I had achieved a certain level of personal healing and transformation to understand how important it was to support my child in loving herself and in being her own person. I was certain I would do the opposite of what my parents did.
Little did I know that when the craziness hits the fan and I’m tired and at my limit, how difficult it would be to not fall into a pattern of reacting.
At age 22, my daughter continues to be strong-minded and determined, as well as self-reliant, happy and contented with who she is and where she is headed. And we have a pretty great relationship.
What’s my biggest regret as I look back at my parenting years?
That I didn’t have a coach to support me through all the difficulties of being a parent.
I needed a highly trained, strong yet compassionate coach to help me gain clarity on my values, what I truly wanted for my daughter and our relationship, and how to navigate the emotional rollercoaster of parenting a strong child. I needed the education and actual tools. I didn’t have that so I muddled through it. As a single parent, I was exhausted most of the time.
I didn’t have anyone to remind me how important it was to take care of myself so that I could show up as the mom I wanted to be. I did not have anyone to guide me into the conversations that really mattered with my daughter, to coach me how to gain her cooperation while keeping her powerful, determined spirit intact. To teach me how to set limits that truly stick without the pushback. I realize now we could have had a much more cooperative, enjoyable relationship if I had the help I needed to shift the way I handled things. I could have made it so much easier on myself, but back then there were no parent coaches – at least not that I knew of.
I’ve learned a lot about children and parenting over the last 22 years, particularly in my training to be a parent coach. You know the saying – if I could only go back and do it over, knowing what I know now…..my life would have been completely different.
What is the biggest thing I’ve learned?
Trying to control your child’s behavior by coercing, bribing, shaming, punishing, threatening, arguing with, defending your position, or manipulating your child in any way is a no-win situation. Manipulation or coercion is the most common way to get people to do what we want, but this can create an atmosphere of mistrust. It does not create lasting cooperation and healthy relationships.
Aside from providing the basics of food, shelter, and safety, our role as parents is to provide the environment, circumstances, and emotional support that will allow our kids to learn the lessons that they will need to be able to thrive in the world. It’s our job to teach and model how to cope and deal with disappointments, conflict, adversity and all the variety of life’s challenges. It’s also our job to model how to be happy, loving and secure within our own self.
Childhood is for growing and learning about life. Kids are little people in such a great big world. They are on a journey, making many mistakes as they try to learn about this world and other people and how they fit in. They are moving through developmental milestones, stumbling and falling, getting right back up and learning some more.
Childhood is also for creative play and fun. Children live in the moment with as much joy, energy, and creativity as they are allowed to express. That’s probably the greatest gift they give us big people who are constantly burdened by reality.
Boundaries and limits are also necessary for children, so they can safely explore their world while respecting others. But if you want to build a relationship of trust and raise a child who is responsible to themselves and others, give them a voice in setting the limits and determining the consequences. Involve them in mutual problem solving. Kids naturally want to “do good” and will cooperate when they’ve created their own stakes in the game.
Often parents unintentionally become an obstacle, rather than a benefit to the development of their children. Few of us have enough time, inner peace and energy to communicate deeply with our children. It takes a lot of love, empathy and compassion.
Instead we try to control them so that life can be easier. We’re taught we should control our children so they will make the right choices. It’s completely understandable to want to direct things with your children. You may feel like you know what’s best for them and often you do.
But how much control do we really have over our kids? Let’s look at what you can and can’t control as a parent.
You can’t control:
- Your children’s thoughts and feelings
- How they express their feelings
- Whether they choose to learn from their experiences
- Whether they agree with you
- Whether they will accept what you teach
You can control:
- Your own behavior and how you respond to your child’s behavior
- How you express your own feelings
- Your own thoughts and actions
- Whether you allow your children to experience consequences for their own actions
- What you model to your children
- What you teach your children
So who’s really in control? You are ultimately in control because when you shift your behavior, your kids will follow. When you show up in a different way to the challenges your children are facing and they feel valued, understood and accepted, they will show up in a different way for you. They will cooperate by choice, not coercion.
You may have already learned what I did. That you’ll not find power in a power struggle. Where you hold all the power is in your own thoughts and behavior. But that’s probably the most difficult thing to manage. You can read all the books and articles, but what happens when you are tired or overwhelmed? Do you fall back into your reactive patterns?
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed or out of control as a parent? Can you imagine having a coach guide you and help prepare you to be more patient, calm, and clear; someone who supports you through the issues you can’t seem to change? You might want to talk with Valerie, an exceptional parent coach who is offering free phone consultations.
Trust me, talking with Valerie could shift everything for you.