I’m coming clean and sharing with you right now; I am guilty, as a parent, of doing what I’m about to write about, and I can’t guarantee I won’t do these things again!
Intrigued? Remember, if you will (or can!), being an adolescent. How wise and knowledgeable were you? (did you think) I distinctly remember being 14 years of age and ‘knowing, simply knowing, with certainty, that I knew it all!
Looking back, I did!
I had not a jot of interest in what older people thought! Their experiences were none of my business, and anyway, when it is my turn for the stuff you adults bang on about, I’ll deal with it then, alright!
Does this sound familiar? Do you find telling, advising, guiding, ordering and instructing your kids… is working for them? Better still, do you also lead by example in all your worldly sage advice?
I was a child and an adolescent once, just do as I say!
How’s that working out for you and your relationships?
It’s clear we have a responsibility to demonstrate love. To nurture, keep safe and encourage growth in knowledge and moral and ethical values, even if they might only be ours! But why does the ‘end-point’ of our teaching only arrive for so many when the kids fly the nest, and perhaps not even then?
What if we explored, considered even, a greater level of responsibility earlier? If not, who’s lack of knowledge are we endorsing? Whose fears are we reinforcing?
There are risks and potential that our children cannot yet know, and these decisions may be so great that they ought not be encouraged to ‘see what happens’. We know that, right? But there are so many important decisions that might be offered too!
Experiences are one of our greatest teachers, so how does ‘that’ sit in with these experiences if they are only offered once ‘we’ have ensured the risks are negligible?
And talking of teaching! One of the frequent causes of disharmony within the family unit I see in the therapy room is around education choices. The parents are, where able, choosing the best education – regardless of what the children think! After all, as responsible parents, we want what’s best for our kids! Right?
Even if their psychological and physical health suffers, they WILL get the best education! Just what is THAT best education teaching them?
That they are without enough enough sense to make such big decisions. That they are NOT to think for themselves and even attempt to make a big decision because Mum and Dad know best, and they want you to have what we had, or didn’t have… even if that was anything but a positive lesson!
It isn’t always about ‘the’ decision though, despite the frequent arguments and discord this part of a decision making process causes. Very little learning occurs at this point – for the affected. It is perhaps our parental reactions to the outcomes of decisions which can cause us to express anger and disappointment, and often in a less than helpful way!
I’ve mentioned educational choices above as an example, and it is an important one, but what other areas could we entrust to our next generation?