Whether you’re pregnant, have a tween just starting high school, or you’re about to change direction in your career, start with the end in mind.
When an expecting couple is asked what they want for their child, the stereotypical answer is ‘happy and healthy’ but what does that mean? Parenting is THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB in the world and this is our answer!
Do you want them to have social emotional intelligence, great connections, conflict resolution skills and the ability to put their own needs ahead of others? Would it be okay for them to have a high IQ, poor social skills and run around people pleasing until they get overwhelmed, depressed and turn to food, drugs and retail therapy to get them through the night? When they settle down with someone, do you want them to make work or family their number one priority? What will you model for them?
How do you want them to leave the nest? Flying confidently, with the occasional crash, knowing you believe they’ve got this because they’ve been allowed to have lots of little falls or do you want them to live at home forever because they’re become addicted to cotton wool and don’t have confidence in their own wings?
Will you teach them from a very early age, that for every action there is a consequence? How? (I love a parenting model I came across in which you say things like, “If you choose to fight with each other in the car, you choose not to have your hour of screen time tonight. Oh, I see you’ve chosen no screen time”, said very matter of factly! Love this. No need for the parents to get all steamed up! Yes, they may scream ‘I hate you’ before they slam their door, partly because even as adults, many of us lose it when under pressure (their brains are still growing), and partly because they know you’re right. They chose it! SO SIMPLE but the idea is that from the word go, long before they’re teenagers with peer group pressure, drugs, fast cars, sexting etc, they’re learning to think ahead to possible consequences when you are NOT there to think for them!)
Will you openly answer their questions about boyfriends and sex in age-appropriate ways from the word go or will you talk about storks, sending the message we don’t talk about these sorts of things long before they become teens. Will you create an environment where they can talk ask you about the mistakes you made as a teen because they’re curious about how you got through adolescence? When they question something you’ve said, will you defend your authority as a parent or will you welcome their questions as they begin to develop the ability to think critically and to transition from being a child to an adult, making mistakes and errors of judgement along the way? Sometimes they bowl a strike and be on fire and other days they’ll thrown gutter balls. Will they know you love them unconditionally either way? How?
The next consideration is who do you have to become to turn that vision for them into reality? What do you need to heal, given epigenetics now shows that events of previous generations affect our genes as well as our day-to-day behaviour? Who could help you address the skill gaps you uncover? What are your ‘opportunity to grow’ areas?
Flashback. Think about your teen years for you and your friends? Puberty, high school, trying to fit in and make friends, the expectations to manage all those subjects, the homework, a part-time job, the broken heart, trying to drive without the bunny hop, the breaking voice and a chest that developed way too fast or way to slow while deciding which subjects to choose for your career? When you were a teen, going through all the stuff that you couldn’t ask your parents, who did you have to turn to? Maybe you were lucky but what about your friends who couldn’t turn to their parents? Where did they go for answers and support? Who will your kids have? Who is already in your village and who could you add to help both you and your child, whatever age they are now?
Did you know, most Australians spend 2K a year minimum on extra-curricular activities per child, more if you throw in subject tutors? How about a coach to partner with your child and yourself as you navigate one of the most challenging periods in life? An adult that is going to give them an answer more aligned to your values than the peer with the most influence? Would you prefer to invest in preventative support BEFORE they get into trouble or would it be better to risk going it alone and turning to professional medical help if the need arises?
Some intentionally hard-hitting questions asked from a place of love. Years of counselling people through the aftermath of unconscious parenting has made me very passionate about creating villages to once again share in the responsibility of raising EPIC humans.
If this resonates with you and you’d like to meet like-minded parents, comment ME and join my free group, which opens soon.