Real Relationship Advice
Relationships do not end with your lovers. We are in relationship with everyone and everything. For many of us, the prospect of having children was a natural process of development. We put little thought into how to parent. We placed lots of effort into making sure they had a great nursery that was both stimulating and visually appealing. We chose a name that was both meaningful and unique. We did our research into how we would give birth, what diapers they would use and weighed the benefits and drawbacks to co-sleeping over independence. Our birth-plans resembled tomes and their outfits that we picked for bringing them home from the hospital are nicely packed away in their keepsakes. In all of this planning, did you think how you would actually parent them?
Top 5 things we do to mess up our kids:
1. Making them the center of our universes: Between team sports, piano/mandarin/capoeira/glass blowing lessons, our little ones are busy. However, we hardly take a moment to see how this affects our lives. Mom Taxis are cutesy ways of saying that you have been reduced to transporter. Saturday mornings are a series of lessons, games and birthday parties that leave no time for adult activities. Make time for yourself and if you have no time, rethink the glass blowing lessons.
2. Parenting from guilt: If we are not the type of parents who over-book our kids we may be too busy to participate with them on a consistent basis. If we find that we are giving them what they want because we feel bad that we missed a game, this makes the relationship tainted. We are not in a guilt based economy and it is not healthy be remunerating your child with toys, parties or a lack of boundaries. We do what we do to survive and sometimes that means we have to work hard and miss out on some things. Make your peace with what you have to do at work and eliminate any activity that needlessly keeps you away from your family. Also, ask yourself every time you give your child something; ‘why?’
3. Who’s the boss?: In Marriage and Family Therapy we have a theory based on Salvadore Minuchin’s Structural Family Therapy where we map out the hierarchy of a family. A healthy family system would have the following hierarchy: Husband and Wife on top, Mom and Dad under them, kids on the bottom. When we allow kids to make decisions for the family, we disrupt the structure of a family. If we stop making decisions and defer to the desires of our children, our children will fill the vacuum and in turn sacrifice the safety of having the two layers of power and responsibility above them removed. This occurs more often than you think. This hurts a child and it will detrimentally affect their relationships.
4. My problems are my problems: Many parents pass down their issues to their children because they do not take the time to deal or even identify their own problems. If you have a bad relationship with your Dad figure it out before you replay it with your child. If you have a fear of heights deal with it before you find your child frozen on a ladder. Your children are taking in everything about you; the good, the bad and the issues. Minimize the bad, temper the issues and maximize the good. Our job is to train them to take on the world; not take on the mantle of our own demons.
5. Parenting from Perfection: If all parents learned the following, we would all be so much happier. Here is the wisdom of the ages and the sooner you accept and embrace it, the happier you will be: NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO YOU ARE GOING TO SCREW UP YOUR KID.
The trick of parenting is to minimize the damage. Keep your word. Tell them they are loved. Tell them you are proud of them. Tell them they are amazing creatures and you are honored to be part of their lives. Let them be independent but with an invisible tether to pull them back in case of danger.
We raised nine kids (still raising one full time). One of the benefits of a large family is that everyone is an important member of this community. I tried to discover and develope each persons talents, ways they could serve each other. Great self-esteem booster. No one is the center of this kind of universe, everyone relates to everyone else and there has to be a boss!Only potential problem is dear old mum who likes to think that she is the be all and end all
I love this. We have two 12 year olds and it is a struggle to define who is in charge. It is good to hear another parent agreeing with our hierarchy strategy.