This is a short and sweet article I wrote about how to manage conflict in family relationships. It works very well between spouses as well as adult-child.
In my job as a university professor, I hang out with a lot of smart people.
Experts in their fields.
PhDs can be fascinating to work even while they might be intimidating to some.
The thing is they are really, really good in their areas of study whether than be science, math, music, or biology. It doesn’t mean they know much about other disciplines. However, there is one profession that requires a person to be an expert in pretty much everything.
Think about it. What knowledge and aptitude does it take to be a parent? The profession of parenting requires a comprehensive list of skills. You need a degree in…well…everything! As you think about each degree listed below, consider how it plays into the role of parenting and family life:
Child (and Human) Development
Fashion/Clothing and Textiles
Landscape and Horticulture
Nutrition and Culinary Arts
E.M.T. with a bit of Nursing on the side
Did you think of any other areas a parent needs to learn about and teach to their children? If we stop to think about it, we are really amazing!
When was the last time you heard someone respond to the question, “What do you do for a living?” with “I am a parent!” just like they would proudly say, “I am a Marine Biologist!” or “I am a Mechanical Engineer!”?
Unfortunately, I usually see the respondent look down and say apologetically, “I am just a mom.”
Stop with the “just” already! We are professionals! We know so much about everything and are enrolled in the most comprehensive “PhD” program in the world.
Parents should be earning their own PhD and “walk” with cap and gown on the day their kids graduate form high school. A PhD should stand for “Parents Have Dominion.”
Because we really do rule the world. You don’t need to be the smartest person in the room to figure that out.
I was once in a movie. Not saying which one since it didn’t star a Hollywood A-list cast and was pretty cheesy. My 5 seconds of fame, you could say.
Anyway, back to the movie. I learned how many times the same scene is filmed over, and over…and over.
From this angle. From that.
With a different perspective.
With different clothing and props.
Different emotion or words.
I now get how tedious acting in films can be. The director will keep going until he/she gets just the right takes. Only the best, Oscar-worthy acting will do. They edit them later so the viewer can see the same scene from many points of view.
If we can do that in film-making, why can’t we do it in life? Don’t we want our worst moments edited out, to end up on the cutting room floor? Maybe they’ll make the “bloopers” extra scenes to laugh about later. But for now, when we act out really terribly with our spouses or kids, can’t we give each other a “do over”?
The same analogy could be said for a “rewind” button. We use it all the time on our remote control.
Here’s an idea: the next time you say or do something you regret, immediately pull out your cellphone, pretend it’s a remote control, and push an imaginary “rewind” button. Tell the other person, you are truly sorry, and want to rewind that scene. Ask permission to have a “re-do” or “do over.” They’ll probably be so stunned or amused, they won’t say no.
Then set up the scene for them with a NEW ending. Say or do the thing you should have the first time.
It’s one of the most amazing, refreshing relationship skills I know of.
Here’s some reminders of how to do this. Talk this strategy over today with those you love (and have hurt) and commit to using it from now on.
That’s a really good question. In other words, does great parenting turn out great kids? Does doing our best guarantee the best results? Or is it all a crap shoot?
Here’s the bad news: Good parent does not always=good teens.
But here’s the good news. The following 3 points are ALL true and can guide us through the difficult times.
1. “Turn out great” is relative. A sassy, mean 10 year old you think is the devil incarnate may mellow out and be and easy adult. A rebellious teen may get their act together later in life (just needed a detour first) and become a fabulous parent themselves. If your child goes through a rough patch, hold on, love them, be firm but flexible, and chances are they will figure things out eventually. People generally do. Some just take longer than others.
It’s a trial to go through for sure, as a parent, but hang on until you get to the other side. Don’t ruin the relationship now just because the teen is acting like a terrorist. They may just be testing us to see, “Do you really love me despite my self loathing and discouragement?” They need us more than ever when they are acting out.
2. Raising children responsibly DOES increase the odds that the child will respond well. They will be less prone to rebellion, helplessness, addiction, or truancy. Stack the odds in your favor by being a good parent the best you can. We can make mistakes, but that’s a good thing. Owning our mistakes, apologizing to our kids, and making improvements shows them how to get through their own mistakes.
3. Remember that it’s often our own attitude that makes the difference. Do you love your teen, acne and all? Can you love them beyond anything else, and be especially kind during these years when the world is so unkind? Do you cherish them (eyes light up when they enter the room) and tell them they are welcome home every day and you love them? Or are you constantly annoyed and angry at them? They are SO perceptive and know if you care or not. If they don’t feel you care, they won’t care about being good.
In a parenting class I teach, a student reflected on questions I posed. Note how her parents’ response built on the trust they already had and kept communication open. She explains about the positive effect on her level of confidence and personal responsibility.
What is an example of how your parents responded to conflict during your teen years?
My parents were very authoritative* The best example of this was a night I was late for my curfew. I was out bowling with some friends in high school and knew that I was not going to make it home in time for my 11:30 curfew. Knowing this, I called my parents at about 11:15 and explained the situation. They simply asked who I was with and if I had a ride and let me come home after we finished our last round of bowling. I stayed with my friends and made it back home by 12. My parents explained to me the next day that because I was a responsible kid, making good choices, and called them to give them a heads up, they were more than happy to forgo their strict curfew for one night.
How did that affect your relationship at the time?
This situation was very beneficial to our relationship at the time. It showed the mutual trust in all of our relationships.
How does it continue to affect your current relationship?
This was the first time that the relationship I have with my parents was ever tested. Due to the mature relationship we built from the beginning, it has been very easy for me to continue to talk to, trust, and want my parents in my life. This one incident was the beginning of many more opportunities for us to communicate and trust each other. We continue to do so today.
How has it affected who you are, your competencies, self-esteem, and socio-emotional maturity?
Having my parents trust me like this helped me to be more mature in all of my decisions in the future. It was a great boost of self esteem that my parents trusted me and my friends to be responsible. I was able to continue that maturity level all throughout high school. While other kids were sneaking out and hiding things from their parents, I knew that I would be much better off being open and honest from the beginning. I hope to continue this style of parenting when I am a parent one day.
*An “authoritative” parent is one that is loving, responsive, sets boundaries, has reasonable expectations, and supports their child’s not-so-perfect efforts.
So let’s not pass along the “just wait until your child is a teen” (with eye rolling) warning to each other. What a terrible way to set us up for fearing these years. They aren’t to be endured, but to be enjoyed. Having just finished raising my 5th and final teen, I call honestly say they were amazing years. Adolescents are funny, kind, smart, and in desperate need of their parent’s attention and listening ear.
Our attitude matters. Rather than “eat our young” we need to sit down at eat with our young. Talk. Listen. Laugh. And have a long-term perspective that they will outgrow these years and you will outlive them. And you can look back on those fleeting moments with wonder and say, “Yes, that was all good.”
I’ve seen the following article shared and reposted on facebook and blogs. Like the “telephone” game, somewhere down the line the wrong author is cited. In most re-posts, it’s attributed to Dr. Ovid, but is in reality, it’s written by a Canadian occupational therapists named Victoria Prooday and called, “A silent tragedy affecting today’s children.” She stated:
For the past 16 years, I have been working with ‘misbehaved’ children. While most parents believe that their kids’ misbehaviour is intentional, I haven’t yet met a child who WANTS to misbehave. A child’s misbehaviour is just a manifestation of a deeper need. It is a desperate call for help. As a society, we address very differently physical and emotional challenges. If a child has physical challenges, we help our child strengthen the weak muscles. However, if a child has emotional challenges, we put them in time-out! Why? Children with emotional challenges need our help too! They need our help strengthening their emotional muscle – self regulation!
There is a silent tragedy unfolding today in our homes, and concerns our most beautiful jewelry: our children. Our children are in an emotionally devastating state! Over the past 15 years, researchers have given us more and more alarming statistics on an acute and constant increase in childhood mental illness that is now reaching epidemic proportions: Stats don’t lie:
• 1 in 5 children have mental health issues
• A 43% increase was observed in ADHD
• An increase of 37% in teenage depression has been observed
• A 200% increase in the suicide rate among children aged 10 to 14 has been observed.
What’s going on and what’s wrong with us? Kids these days are over-Stimulated and over-given material objects, but they are deprived of the foundations of a healthy childhood, such as:
• Emotionally available parents
• clearly defined boundaries
• Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep
• Movement in general but especially outdoors
• Creative gaming, social interaction, informal gaming opportunities and spaces for boredom. Instead, the last few years have been filled with the children of:
• Digital Distracted Parents
• Pampering and permissive parents who let children “rule the world” and be the ones who make the rules
• A sense of law, to earn everything without earning it or being responsible for getting it
• Inappropriate sleep and unbalanced nutrition
• A sedentary lifestyle
• Endless stimulation, technological teddy bears, instant gratification and absence of boring moments. What to do ?If we want our children to be happy and healthy individuals, we need to wake up and get back to the basics. It is still possible! Many families are seeing immediate improvements after weeks of implementing the following recommendations:
• Set boundaries and remember that you are the captain of the ship. Your children will feel safer knowing you have the government in control.
• Offer children a balanced lifestyle filled with what children need, not just what they want. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to your children if what they want isn’t what they need.
• Provide nutritious food and limit junk food.
• Spend at least one hour a day outdoors doing activities such as: Cycling, hiking, fishing, bird / insect watching
• Enjoy a daily family dinner without smartphones or technology distracting them.
• Play table games with the family or if the kids are too small for board games, let your interests be carried away and let them be the ones sending in the game
• Involve your children in a task or housework according to their age (folding clothes, ordering toys, hanging clothes, unwrapping food, setting the table, feeding the dog etc.
• Implement a consistent sleep routine to ensure your child sleeps long enough. Times will be even more important for school-age children.
• Teach responsibility and independence. Don’t overprotect them from frustration or error. Being wrong will help them develop resilience and learn to overcome life’s challenges,
• Don’t load your children’s backpack, don’t carry your backpacks, don’t take them the task they forgot, don’t peel their bananas or peel their oranges if they can do it themselves (4-5 years old). Instead of giving them the fish, show them how to fish.
• Teach them to wait and delay gratification.
• Provide opportunities for “boredom”, because boredom is the moment when creativity awakens. Don’t feel responsible for always keeping kids entertained.
• Do not use technology as a cure for boredom, nor offer it at the first second of inactivity.
• Avoid using technology during meals, in cars, restaurants, shopping malls. Use these moments as opportunities to socialize by training the brains to know how to function when they are in “bored” mode
• Help them create a “Boredom Bottle” with activity ideas for when they’re bored.
• Be emotionally available to connect with children and teach them self-regulation and social skills:
• Turn off the phones at night when kids have to go to bed to avoid digital distraction.
• Become an emotional regulator or coach of your children. Teach them to recognize and handle their own frustrations and anger.
• Show them to greet, to take turns, to share without being left without anything, to say thank you and please, to recognize the mistake and apologize (don’t force them), be a model for all these values that it instills.
• Connect emotionally – smile, kiss, kiss, tickle, read, dance, jump, play or spoil with them.
In a university parenting class I teach, students interview their parents and ask them a variety of questions about what it was like to raise their children.
If we could have brought in these parents to class and lined them up in front, they would represent decades of experience and a rich “lessons learned” dialogue. I wish we could, but in place of that, I took some of what advice they shared and will anonymously excerpt what they said below. There’s so much outstanding advice they shared that we can all absorb, and if we do, we’d be better people and parents. They summed up all they learned in a few sentences and they are GOLD. Take note of how many times the word “love” was used and and the context spoken. Look for other repeated themes that indicate it’s important to a lot of parents looking back on their lives.
“Everybody’s different and every parent will do it a little differently. But if you decide to have kids, recognize the responsibility that it is. A good parent only punishes out of love. Make sure you do all you do with your kids from a place of love.”
“We all just keep learning. We learn first to be parents to little kids, then teenagers, then adults… you’re never a pro at it when you start a new stage.” My mom added, “and we’ve made mistakes at every stage.” My dad’s advice was “don’t sweat the small stuff.”
“Everyone has bad days and good days. Sometimes you’ll feel really patient and others you won’t have any patience left. Don’t be too hard on yourself.” My mom said, “If you say it, do it. If you have an expectation, expect it.”
“It’s a hundred million times worth every single effort that I put into being a mom, and it is so joyful. I would not trade it for anything.” There have always been ups and downs, but there are things he has learned as a parent that would not have been possible any other way. My mom said, “ Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you’re perfect now. Give yourself grace and make sure you yourself are taken care of.”
“Have fun and enjoy your children.” It’s important to enjoy the time you have with them because one day they will grow up and you’ll wonder where the time went.
“Love. Show love to your kids and they will be ok. Love verbally by saying it, physically with hugs and kisses, and love in action. Show them by loving their mom. I believe in and love you very much. You will be a great parent. “
“Show them all the love you can muster and more. The world is a scary place, but knowing you love them and that there is always a place for them at home is the best thing you can do for them.”
“Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t be too hard on your kids. You aren’t going to do it right, the most important thing is that you do it.”
“You are never going to be ready or prepared. If you wait to be ready to be a parent you’ll wait forever. It stretches you more than anything you ever experience, but also will bring you more joy than anything you’ll ever experience.”
“I would encourage you to enjoy every single second of every age and never wish a stage away. I enjoyed every stage of every one of my children and I would encourage you to do that same thing.”
“Start a journal during the pregnancy of each child, and to continue that journal throughout their life. Write everything down because you think that you will remember it, but you won’t.”
“Never yell at them and show them unconditional love. He said yelling does not get you anywhere, and is a lot more hurtful than helpful for both the parent and child. He also said to let your kids know that mistakes happen and mistakes are okay. My mom said her best advice would be to show them love at all times.”
Make sure that you and your spouse are in agreement on how certain things should be, you don’t want to have somebody that’s “Well we’ll just let it go this time. Well, no, we need to do this.” Be consistent, work together with your spouse.
She also talked about how as a parent, mistakes are going to be made and it’s important to forgive yourself and learn from the experiences and be conscious of what is happening. It is okay to tell a child that you made a mistake and are wrong and from that, kids will be able to recognize and learn to apologize and that it is okay to be wrong. With admitting wrong, children will learn they can be vulnerable and how not to be stubborn and proud.
“DO IT!” My mom said, “You aren’t going to know the best days until you are out of them, so enjoy every moment and just know that everything is going to be O.K.” My dad said, “Always remember that they are each their own individual person. It is so easy to make them feel small and insignificant, so don’t be too blunt or hard on them. Your job is to support, provide guidance, and protect them. Always make sure they know they are loved. Just breathe and relax and know it will work out. What is significant now won’t be significant later.”
“Each child is an individual with individual wants, needs, abilities and goals.. Although families are a group dynamic, each child needs and deserves specific care and nurturing. As the child grows into a teen and then a young adult and then an adult, the parent’s role changes to allow the child to make more and then all of life’s determinations. A parent becomes more of an advisory than an instructor.
“Don’t beat yourself up if children don’t always choose what you would want them to choose. Enjoy each stage, because it will pass quicker than you think. Diversify yourself outside of being a parent. Don’t lose yourself in becoming a parent. Keep your own identity.”
Mom’s advice is to not worry about control and work on fixing the power struggle between herself and her kids. Validate the child’s opinions. Their feelings are valid even if they are different from what I may think they should be. She would also focus on less fear-based parenting, but rather parent her children with hope. Let them experience life, and let them feel how they are feeling.
Take it one minute at a time
– Make sure you are super united with your husband, teenagers will destroy your marriage if you let them. Be united!
– Pray with kids, don’t lose your temper
– Hug them several times a day, tell them you love them every day
– Do activities with your kids, no phones, just quality time with siblings.
– Don’t entertain them to death, then they can’t interact with each other. Go boating, hiking, camping
– Religion is so important! Believe in something bigger than yourself, have hope!!
– Don’t over indulge kids, don’t buy their love, don’t just be their buddy, be their parent
– Eat dinner together with your family (or at least a meal)
– Your spouse is #1, their needs come before the kids. Prioritize your relationship with
them cause they will be there for you after the kids are gone.
“I would tell people the thing I learned is don’t be afraid to ask for help from other adults or professionals, read books about it. I also think that families are really important and that extended families are really important and to be involved with them.”
Humans aren’t the only ones to have little ones, or really bad days, or feel the delight and burden of caring for dependents. Whether they are fur babies or human babies, moms have the most rewarding, best, and toughest job in the world.
Do animals-particularly moms-feel and express emotion? You be the judge by the following parent-child photos.
What single word emotion would you use to caption each situation?
|The Night Before My Daughter’s 13th Birthday|
|by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer|
|If I could do it all again,|
I would—every blooming bit of it.
Every bout of pink eye,
every snotty nose, every
late night waking, every
single reading of Good Night Moon,
every fairy house, every
drive to every ballet class,
every singalong to the entire
soundtrack of Hamilton,
every wobble and stumble
and blunder and lapse
to arrive at this very moment
when we lie on her bed
in the dark and talk about
this miracle, this astonishing
life, and watch dumb videos
and curl into each other.
In every moment, a seed.
It surprises me now,
how beautiful the field.