Dear Dr. Allen: Parenting challenges: challenge, listen
by Dr. Greg Allen
Parenting needs to be consistent in terms of what we expect and do with our kids.
Identify values and subsequent guidelines that are important for your family. Explain these values to your kids. Be consistent with your guidance. Don’t just look for faults or problems. Look for good things you can affirm in them, things that they are handling well.
Exhorting: Don’t forget to challenge your kids. They need a combination of being challenged and coached, as well as being loved and supported. Life experience is not just about feelings. The reality is we need to work hard to be successful.
Kids also need to learn order, structure, and discipline. I encourage parents to not shy away from challenges or from being assertive.
Life Decisions: Kids’ options are endless. They can guide their lives in many different directions. Help them to find their direction. Let them try many things and see which ones catch on with them. This could be in creative areas as well as learning areas. Which ones strike a chord within them? Teach them to listen to their heart.
Communication: Ask them open-ended questions so they have to search for the answers. Have discussions without having anxious reactions. They are looking for someone who will listen. Practice listening without reacting. Kids and teens would love to talk to their parents, but they’re often not able to because
the parents can’t handle what they’re talking about. Practice just listening with the goal of being supportive. Brainstorm through ideas, options, choices, and possible consequences of what they’re doing or thinking of doing.
Resiliency: Through the COVID shut downs, and subsequent effects, many young people have become weaker in terms of resiliency, courage, and perseverance. Those qualities need to be rebuilt as they grow through the next few years. Things not working out, things not going as planned, being turned down, is normal in life. Unfortunately, many of our kids have grown up in such a sheltered environment that they can’t handle rejection or failure.
Life is not about what happens to us but about what we do about what happens to us. It’s about how we react and respond. It’s not so much what other
people say or do, it’s about what we say or do. Help your kids grow with internalstrength and fortitude. Being tested in life is a good thing. Coping with stress
and disappointment is an important life skill to learn.
Sometimes we have to let go of things, and sometimes we have to persevere. Maybe the goals we are aiming for seem unattainable, but they’re still worth striving for. We can’t give up on the values that are important to us.