As a parent I have been known to take detours that lead me down a path that is in desperate need of repair. You know the ones I’m talking about. Maybe there is a rule in your home where you’ve outlined a consequence, and just once you forgot to enforce it. What happens? The whining begins, “Last time you said it was okay!” and the debate is on. What’s your next step? Do you enforce the old consequence again or let it slide?
Or maybe you’ve decided you want to be the best parent ever, so when your high school student has difficulty getting out of bed for school, you rush upstairs several times each morning to try to wake her up. What happens when you get busy? The saga starts, “Mom, you didn’t wake me up this morning!”
How did it become your problem?
I love the great debate that is going on with a neighbor. Her son is 11 and the heat is on. “But, Mom, all of my friends have a smart phone! Even the kid down the street has one and he’s only 8.” And the peer pressure becomes so strong that as a parent you feel the need to give in.
Oh, these are just a few of the detours we make as parents as we begin to understand that before we realize it, we’ve stepped into a pothole that seems destined to destroy us as competent adults. We seem to be able to successfully maintain a home, a career, and manage our finances, but little Johnny can send us into a tailspin that we aren’t sure how to repair. Sometimes our well-thought intentions backfire into an expectation that becomes ours to own rather than our child’s.
Our goal as parents is to try to understand if we have enough structure in place in our homes so our children can thrive while making sure that we have the emotional closeness to our kids that they feel our love if they or we hit a bump in the road. Remember that God gave us children to GROW US! It is up to us to make sure that we balance the relational aspect of parenting with the natural consequences that are part of life.
Another detour that you might want to consider is whether you are allowing your children to learn resilience. Pain, agony, and challenges help tweens and teens become over-comers. If we try to be the “helicopter parent” who swoops in too often to save the day, how will they become self-functioning adults? Maybe it’s time to help coach them through the rough terrain rather than coming to the rescue.
So what are some things you can do when you’ve taken a parenting detour and aren’t on the road to success?
- Assess where you are. If you take an inventory of where things are with your tween and teen on a monthly or quarterly basis, it is much easier to make repairs.
- Ask yourself where the potholes are. Are they in relationship or structure?
- Decide what you are going to do to reinforce the relationship or the structure.
- Apologize and communicate with your teen about the need for repair.
- Work a plan with your tween or teen to enforce the change.
These can be fairly simple if you take time to work through the steps.
Suppose your 15 year old is spending more time with his friends than with you. You are concerned that they have too much influence over him. Your pothole seems to be relationship. You realize that maybe you should be spending more time with your child. The conversation could go something like this, “Sarah, I need to apologize to you. I feel like I haven’t made enough time for you in my schedule and you are really an important part of my life. I want to make sure that our relationship is strong so that when you go off to college and later get married, that we’ll want to take time for each other. What if we start planning a weekly activity that we’ll both enjoy?”
And then do it.
Or what if you didn’t enforce a consequence that has translated into whining by your 13 year old? You might say the problem is with your structure. Why not try “Nathan, I owe you an apology. My job as a parent is to help you grow into a healthy adult and I think instead I haven’t done a good job. I’ve realized that I haven’t been consistent in our consequences we established with ______. Last time you challenged me and said that I had let you off the hook before and you were right. I shouldn’t have done that. I want you to know that in the future, I am going to work real hard at implementing the consequences that we set up ahead of time. I’ll try to be more consistent. I want you to know if I mess up again, I’d like you to feel free to let me know. One of the things that I’d like to help you work on is in “how” you communicate that to me. How about if we practice that right now?”
Then role play what respectfully challenging your decision might look like.
Repairing the detours is about apology and communication.
Proverbs 25:15 NLT
Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can crush strong opposition.
Dare you to create a relationship with structure that teaches resilience for adulthood. Communicating wisely can make the difference.
“Let go…and let God”,
What kind of parenting detours do you struggle with?