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“My Son wants nothing to do with me.”
A few days ago, I saw these words posted in one of the parenting boards I participate in.
I could see how much pain that momma was going through. She went on to explain that she had spent years trying to be the “perfect mom.” Now what did she have to show for it?
I’m sure she felt as though she were doing the right thing. Like every other “good” mom on the planet, she set about teaching her child an endless list of do’s and don’ts.
She made sure her son kept his grades up.That he brushed his teeth regularly.She taught him to say please and thank you.She taught him to stop interrupting.She taught him to respect adults.To say he was sorry.To share when he didn’t want to….. and the list goes on.
“You aren’t your child’s friend.” – or are you?
I read an article not long ago that said: “You aren’t your child’s friend.”
The basis of the article is that as parents, it’s our job to discipline our child rather than trying to “understand” how they feel.
Basically, we should be more focused on making sure our child knows how to submit to authority than on making sure our child feels heard.
The article goes on to state – You can be your child’s friend but not their confidant.
I just can’t get behind that line of thinking. A confidant is EXACTLY what I want to be for my child. And as a grown-up, it’s exactly who I want my own mother to be for me. I wouldn’t call myself a pushover by any means, but I don’t see myself strictly as my child’s authority either.
In over a decade of teaching and childcare, I have met countless children. But I have never met one sweet-hearted, well-mannered child who had a harsh and critical perfectionist type parent.
Typically, our best students were ones who’s parents listened when they talked, accepted them for who they were, corrected gently, and loved them loudly.
Becoming the “Perfect Parent”
Being the perfect “PTO mom” has lost some of its luster in the last few decades, but being a “Pinterest perfect” mom is the new “in thing.”
We spend hours creating treat bags for every holiday. We meal plan, meal prep, declutter, and life-hack our way to the “American Dream”
We read all the parenting books. We use time outs and calm down jars. We take away toys for bad behavior. We take away privileges for bad school reports.
With the world at our fingertips, we are constantly googling things like “Why my 4 year old won’t eat peas.” or ” How to get my daughter to stop talking back.”
But there is a problem with having all of that knowledge at our fingertips. We are holding ourselves and our children to IMPOSSIBLE standards.
And while we are molding the image of a perfect child, we are missing what really matters.
WHAT REALLY MATTERS
Biblically speaking, Christians are constantly quoting Proverbs 13:24 (spare the rod, spoil the child.)
But what about 1 Corinthians 13:1 that says “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”
LOVE is the ingredient that matters most.
Are you a noisy gong?
“I might as well be talking to a wall.” Have you ever said those words?
Kids learn to tune out the negative voices. If everything you say to your child is a command or a criticism, your words won’t hold the weight you want them to.
If you want your children to tune into your words, tune into theirs.
Can I be my child’s friend AND a good parent?
I won’t lie, it is tricky. The lines can get really blurry.
As parents, it IS our job to teach our children right from wrong. It is our job to protect them from things they aren’t mature enough to handle. It is our job to guide their steps.
Maybe “friend” isn’t exactly the right word.
MENTOR – Be your child’s mentor.
Webster defines a Mentor as a trusted counselor or guide. A tutor or a coach.
Yes. That fits.
As a mentor to your child, you are their guide, not their judge. Which means that you shouldn’t be using fear and punishment as your sole means of reinforcement.
So what makes a mentee follow a mentor? According to the Journal of Extension
There are 4 important parts of the mentor/mentee bond.
1. Develop a Relationship of Trust
2: Define Roles and Responsibilities
3: Collaborate to Solve Problems
3: Establish Short and Long Term Goals (More info on this coming soon – Subscribe to stay in the loop!)
So what it boils down is:
Have a quality relationship with your children.
And spend quality time with them.
But that begs an even trickier questionWhat does quality time look like?
BUt I can’t simply tell you what YOUR quality time looks like because it’s different for each person.
To you, quality time may be when your spouse goes shopping with you and lets you daydream about all the things you’d like to buy. Or maybe it’s when your spouse watches American Idol reruns with you until midnight.
The bottom line? Quality time is when someone tunes into you, what you want, how you feel, and what you enjoy.
Once a week (or once a month if that’s all you can spare) just throw out all of your plans and tune in to your child.
Do they enjoy coloring? Then grab yourself a coloring book like this one and sit down with them.
Maybe your child really enjoys playing trains? Then just plop down in front of the train table and start your engine.
It really is just that simple!
Slow Down: TUNE IN
I’ve started a #TuneInChallenge and I will be making it a priority to tune in to each of my children this month! You can follow along (or join in!) on InstaGram.
Also, I’m excited about the chance to share a guest post series from some great bloggers this month who are going to share some fantastic ideas this month for spending quality time with your kids!
Stay tuned! 😉