Yea, I know, it’s been a while, and you are probably thinking “What’s up with the Black Butterfly?” “She ain’t flown around here for a while now”. Trust me, I have a good reason, I have been neck-deep in all kinds of work/play/stress thangz, and my overall situation has been in major overdrive. But, I am maintaining… the struggle is so real… I am pregnant with all sorts of ideas, and I can’t wait to throw down. How have you been?
I thought that for the month of August, since school starts back in a few, I’d write a lil’ “shometing-shometing” for the parents, ya know? I have been busy all summer, honing in on my parent coaching skills, and with the new practice, the podcast, speaking engagements, my book making it into the Texas Indie library, and everything in between, your girl is surely going to end this year with a BANG!!
So here goes.
As a parent, your primary role is to raise a well rounded, productive, mentally stable child who will become an adult that will contribute to, and make a difference in the lives around him/her/them, and the world at large. Whatever you do, don’t be a helicopter parent, and don’t be a militant parent either (a la Captain Von Trapp), you must find the sweet center; give a little and take a little.
Let me ask you this, what is the number one complaint that teens have about their parents? and what is the number one complaint parents have about their teens? If you guessed “my parents don’t listen to me, or I don’t understand my teens” you are RIGHT! Now parents, of the two players in the game, whom can you change? If you guessed yourself, then you are RIGHT again! #bethechange
In order to attain that status of “Intentional Parent”, here are my 10 commandments to help you along. These, of course, are by no means the only ways, just my suggestions.
1/ Remember thou art the parent, so live your life like you are the mirror or window through which your children look at life. This point is pretty much self-explanatory. Your life is the most important way your children experience life. You are their first teacher and the most influential adult in their lives. Forget that they all want to be some famous Hollywood star when they grow up, secretly, you are their numero uno hero(ine) and that is a darn good place to be. Never forget this. Be as intentional as possible when you are around them. They watch, they see, they mimic. It’s simply what kids do.
2/ Thou shalt not do for thy child, that which they can do for themselves. Hmmm, this is a no brainer, if only we will disallow ourselves from enabling our children so much. Many of my patient’s parents tell me they do it “just to avoid conflict” or because they are “tired of trying” to get their kids to do it, or because it is “simply easier than trying to get the kids to do the right thing”. Something as simple as laundry, or cleaning up their rooms… Bottom line, start early to teach them to be responsible and learn to do their own tasks that are assigned to them. This way, when they get to college, they will know what to do, and how to be independent young adults. Independence is a point I discussed in detail in my book.
3/ Thou must love thy self first, and to the fullest, then love thy child as thine self. See, you cannot give to your child or to anyone for that matter, from a place of emptiness. I have had a personal experience with this as a child, so I know that it is of utmost importance that a parent gives to their child from a place of abundance. This might sound like it is self-explanatory, but, the majority of parents tell me stuff that makes me believe that they are going about their loving backwards. They sometimes tell me that they love their kids more than they love themselves, that shouldn’t be so. This is the reason behind the airlines, for instance, requiring parents to put on their masks first before putting them on their child, simple.
4/ Thou shalt not overreact or allow thyself to lose control. When it comes to communicating with your kids or teens, it is often very easy to lose your patience and your self-control (guilty as charged :). Teens are not the best communicators, they would rather text, shrug, grunt, or say nothing than speak sometimes. As the parent, you must stay in control, have rules of engagement, and allow yourself to understand their point of view, and give them the benefit of the doubt, even when you either think otherwise or believe otherwise. Trust me, if you jump to the wrong conclusion or overreact inappropriately, the result is you apologizing with your tail between your legs and that is not cool. This is one of the principles I discuss in my Dr. Lulu’s Parenting Your Teen Program, found here.
5/ Thou must give thy teens their due respect. I know that when we think about your child, most of us are not thinking about respect coming from your end. Well, I have news for you “respect begets respect”. It is thus imperative that you not earn their respect, you should also teach them to earn theirs and keep it. Whether you are dealing with your 4y old, your 14y old or a 40y old, you must show respect, so it is reciprocated. I recommend you start by softening your thoughts, then your eyes, then your body and then your tone will follow, when communicating to your teen. It helps a lot with connecting and encouraging a good relationship with them.
6/ Thou must allow thy kids to learn life lessons if and when life chooses to teach them. Sometimes these are hard lessons, but they are often good lessons in the end. As a parent, you know you cannot protect them from everything anyway, and this is true. They must have bruises and scars in order to get stronger. This is what happens with our muscles when we exercise, they shred, and then heal to give that beautiful slim toned body 🙂 You can’t protect them from the falls off the bike, nor the falls off the monkey bars, nor the not-so-perfect-grades in school, nor the heartbreaks as they get older. What you can do though is be there for them, kiss the boo-boos and tend to the broken heart if and when it happens, and support them as much as possible.
7/ Thou must use the three Hs; your Head, your Heart, and your Hands when dealing with thy children.
Head: Thinking before you act, before you make any important decisions, like ownership and use of cellphones and social media by your children. Ensuring there are rules of engagements that every family member understands. Remember your teen years and all the struggles you had, especially when it came to interaction with your parents. If you keep that in mind, first, you will be fine.
Heart: To love them unconditionally, to always act from a place of love and understanding where your child is concerned. Even if you don’t like or approve of what they are doing, or decisions they are making, you should remember if the same thing had happened to you when you were a teen, and how much your parents’ approval of you and your life’s decisions would have meant to you. Then love on them 🙂
Hands: To touch, feel, hug, build, repair, and mold them.
8/ Thou must pick thy fights wisely: Every battle must not be won, there is a saying that goes, “do not win the battle and lose the war”. This saying is so important. It is imperative that we as parents remember this. Not every disagreement must end in an argument, not every argument must end in a fight, and not every fight must be won by parents. (I probably need this advice more myself, it is extremely hard for me to not want to have the last word when I argue) However, consider the fact that you can walk away from any argument, and maybe even sleep on it, and see if the morning brings clarity. Trust me, there will be those arguments that you will have the last say in, and those will be the ones that are worth winning.
9/ Thou must be thy child’s cheerleader and advocate: Your child must see your actions reflecting the fact that you have their backs at all times, believe me, they usually come back and thank you, I know this. My favorite memory of this was when my then 12y old first son was being bullied on the school bus and his glasses were broken by the bully. I immediately went to the bully’s home and had a chit-chat with his mom. My son ended up with the most expensive replacement glasses we could find, and a few weeks later the bully got expelled for bringing a BB gun to school. My son is now 21y and he recently thanked me while giving a talk at my most recent Dr. Lulu’s Parenting Your Teen Workshop.
10/ Thou must allow thy kids and especially the teens some independence: Captain Von Trapp, you are not. Helicopter or bulldozer parent you are not either. Raising your children with intention is the plan here. So, allowing them as much independence as needed is critical. My take on it is to ensure that the independence is controlled, and allowed within reason. Now that my boys are older (2 in college, one in high school), my rules are; I must know about the trip/outing ahead of time, then we discuss the rules before they leave; we agree on a return time, and discuss all the details of the outing, like where they are going, with whom. I must have contact numbers. They also have to check in with me at agreed times during their outings. If for whatever reason they will be home late, I get a call or a text. This way, if they break the rules, they are held responsible. This works almost perfectly for my family.
I wish you the very best in your parenting journey. Remember, parenting is the hardest thing you have ever done, but it is also the very best thing you will ever do… so go ahead and be the parent best that you can be.
“No other work transcends that of righteous intentional parenting” ~Russel M. Wilson