What Kids Need: Parents as a Resource
It seems nearly impossible when listening to our young person not to give advice. As parents, we have so many stories, have lived so many situations, and endured various circumstances that we can, at times, see what is coming. When we leap forward with our advice and cautions, we take away some of the self-discovery that kids need. I’m not saying to stay silent if the situation is dangerous, but some experiences, if still safe, are best learned by living. We have another resource that, as parents, we don’t use enough–Listening.
Kids need advice; however, the help comes from a coaching approach, not a cautionary, advice-giving parental approach. When we take time to listen to our kids, we build rapport and build trust with them. This invisible energy comes into play when they need us when they have messed up and need advice or are scared. That is when the trust and beautiful aspects of communication we built when things didn’t matter are present. Trust happens over time and is best-done one-on-one or in a structured family meeting situation. I prefer a one-on-one and still remember fondly laying on the couch on my mom’s lap with her stroking my hair and talking to me. It was among the most beautiful moments of my life, but then they were gone. What happened to them?
As parents, we can take a careful and structured approach without seeming that way to our kids. Take time to listen, avoid giving advice, at least right away. Perhaps, if you need to, wait and offer advice later or the following day. You can say, “I’ve been thinking about what you said, and I have something for you to consider. Would you like to hear it?” Be prepared for a “no” response, but you will often receive a “yes” response.
When kids can use a parent as a resource for their social and personal decisions, it adds a dimension of trust and a layer of confidence that is uncommon. Over the years, the child will come to enjoy and rely on that relationship to sound off when they need it. I challenge everyone to take time one-on-one with their child to develop that resource approach with them. Let them know that you would like to be available for those “situations” that occur and, if nothing else, listen and then do just that.
Here is a solid read on parenting that may also be helpful Parenting & Child Development – Dr. Rich Patterson (pattersonphd.com)
More resources for parents are available at Parent Resources (apa.org)
Yours for Better Parenting,