Here’s a parenting question I get often: Should I condemn or condone quitting an activity? I was fortunate enough to have this exact conversation with Jen Zamzow, PhD for her Good Housekeeping article “It’s Okay to Let Kids Quit Things.” And this is what we discussed…
It’s really easy to get down on yourself for behaving regretfully toward your child. What’s hard is forgiving yourself because you’re human and making amends.
Repairing mistakes is one of the best skills you can teach your child. Isn’t this what we want them to be able to do? Repairing, apologizing, owning up and being accountable for your behavior is the sign of a strong, responsible person—exactly what you want your child to become.
But it’s hard for many parents to own mistakes and make repairs. When you have learned through your childhood that apologizing, showing vulnerability by admitting mistakes is a sign of weakness, it is hard to do it with your child. It can feel like admitting defeat, losing authority, giving in. But the opposite is true.
Coming down off a righteous pedestal to apologize, to say I see it differently now and wish I hadn’t said what I did, to admit wrong-doing, is not backing down or being inconsistent and wishy-washy. On the contrary, it is the powerful thing to do.
I often read Meghan Leahy’s advice in her column On Parenting for The Washington Post. I saw this headline, How do I connect with my teen son while respecting his independence, and had to read what she would say to this mom. After all, this is totally my wheelhouse. She said it so well that I wanted to share it with you. I hope that parents of little children read it as well. Focus on connection shouldn’t wait for the teen years.
I work with so many parents of teens who were able to get them to do what they were told as younger children. These parents thought they were doing the right thing, but controlling, coercive methods of parenting—like time outs, threats, removing favorite things, grounding—tend to backfire when the child reaches the age of realization that they don’t have to do what they’re told anymore. They can even switch their allegiance from annoying parents to peer groups.
To be the parent your kids still look to for support and guidance, connection and problem solving rather than threats, blame
Q. My 8 year old son is constantly talking back to me and using vulgar language. I tell him that is not acceptable, and he keeps doing it. He argues and doesn’t listen to authority—my authority anyway. He’s fine at school. Teachers love him. When I was young, I would have been smacked if I said half of what he does. I’m at a loss. What do I do to stop this constant talking back and throwing crude words at me?
A. I, like you, was brought up to respect my elders—at any cost. I wasn’t allowed to say what I wanted, what I thought about anything, or express my opinion. Only adults had opinions. Having an opinion was never encouraged, never asked for, never listened to. If one came out, it was ignored or highly criticized as talking back. Life was about doing what grown-ups told you to do. Children were second-class citizens. Fortunately (I guess) my temperament kept me from ever expressing anger at my parents for keeping me quiet. I just simply stayed quiet. But my brother
Q. Ines, 8, is a very sweet playing, sporty, capable but gentle friend. On the playground one of her better friends at school is starting to bully her. Tonight she was crying as the girl was telling her to go into a dark shed in the playground. Ines said she didn’t want to as she was afraid of the dark. The friend teased her for being a cry baby and insisted etc. My question is what do I do? I encouraged her to say STOP! and that you don’t like the way she is treating you, but she says that is not kind and she doesn’t want to be like her friend. I said to her that she needs to say stop for her friend’s sake too. She ‘practiced’ saying it but sounded like a mouse… that’s not going to transmit a message of strength. She’s going to a party tomorrow and this friend will be there. Ines is afraid that this girl will insist that the room be dark. I know the parents well and could talk to them
Q. I’ve been a long time subscriber and benefitted on how to handle parenting issues mostly when my kids were very young. Now my son has turned 18 and feels entitled to stay out as long as he wants. For me and my husband, we still think that house rules apply but I’m finding it very difficult to give logical reasons why my son should abide by some rules when my husband does the exact same thing. Is there any better way to handle this or what reasons will be valid in this situation?
A. The reason you are having a hard time coming up with logical reasons is because there are none when it comes to holding authority over your 18 year old. He should be in a place by now where he has authority over himself. That comes from slowly and gradually pulling back your authority from your child as he becomes able to handle things on his own.
Children live with parents for as long as they do because of all the things they must do that
Q. I have enjoyed reading many things on your website. My husband and I are the owners of 1 integrity child and 1 harmony child. The first makes me nearly lose my mind as I am an integrity person as well. My question is how do you help them understand that the world doesn’t revolve around their perceived needs? My own experiences were tough, and it took counseling to finally work through my own self esteem challenges. It is and has always been exhausting. He is 18 and a good boy. He is polite, smart, well-adjusted, and has tremendous integrity BUT argues with us over nearly anything not being done his way. We try to get in his head and help him, but life will not always accommodate that, and he fears failure. I would love any insight you could provide.
A. The fact that your son is polite, well-adjusted with tremendous integrity says that you have raised him respectfully. But your fears of the outside world not accommodating his temperament are misplaced. He will learn from experience what tracks
Instead of starting off the new year with resolutions you are likely to ignore, how about deciding to accept yourself and your kids just the way you are?
You might find that acceptance is much harder than setting unrealistic goals that keep you in a state of tension when you can’t meet them or control them in your children. The task is realizing that the only way for change to occur is to first accept yourself, quirks, problems, and all.
Acceptance is what you and your children need the most. If you’re reading this, I can guarantee that your children know you love them. But…do they know you accept them? Or do they think you wish they were different? Be in your child’s head for a minute and answer that question.
Acceptance has to do with the expectations you set—consciously or unconsciously. Do your kids think they meet up to your expectations or do they believe they can never be good enough for you? How about you? Do you believe you’re good enough?
When you know you are good enough,
Tis the season—for stress, impatience and probably some unrealistic expectations and resentment over why your family isn’t like the happy ones you see on Instagram. That means trickle down stress for your children, no matter what age. Your littlest ones may show it in irregular sleep, eating, toileting and generally cranky behavior. Your middle ones may show it in angry outbursts and words that push anyone’s buttons. And your teens may simply disappear to their rooms to get away from it all.
But all are at risk of some major meltdowns. Mainly because children can’t hold onto as much stress as we can—note: this is a good thing—and are far more likely to let it out at home with the safest people in their lives. More good things.
Nobody likes dealing with kids’ meltdowns. Especially kids. Please do not be influenced to ignore or threaten your child by those who say, “He’s doing that on purpose. He’s just trying to get your attention.” We’ve all had meltdowns. They’re not fun. Your kids aren’t doing it on purpose. And of course
This month, Bonnie has invited guest writer, Abi Long, to offer her traveling insights for families.“Having fun with children creates connection. Connection builds relationships. Relationships are what we need to raise our children. So start having more fun, more of the time.”
~ Bridgett MillerVacations are a brilliant way for adults to relax, unwind and immerse themselves in new experiences – but what about when there are kids to think about? Travelling with young children can be a daunting prospect, and you may wonder if they’ll even get much out of the experience. The truth is, taking little ones on vacation can do incredible things for their development. Here are three key advantages of vacationing with young kids.
1. Travel supports education and motivates kids to learn
Vacations give kids the opportunity to learn in an immersive manner. They can apply concepts they’re taught in school or from books to real-life experiences, and there’s plenty of research to back this up. When children apply attention to diverse experiences such as travelling, permanent changes occur within the brain