What Kids Need: Parents as a Resource

It seems nearly impossible when listening to our young person, to not 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 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 from a cautionary, advice-giving parental approach.  When we take time to listen to our kids, we are building rapport, and we are building 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 that we had built when things didn’t matter, really take a new fore.  This happens over time and is best-done one-on-one or in a structured family meeting situation that has been carefully developed.  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 it 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 next morning.  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 many times you will 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 cannot be found anywhere else.  Over the years, the child will come to enjoy and rely on that relationship for just being able to sound-off when they need it.  I challenge everyone to take time one-on-one with your 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 to listen, and then do just that.

Yours for Better Parenting,

Rich