Parents gladly receive children into their lives eager to teach and guide them. Fond hopes are created and dreams planned as their child begins to grow and develop. The difficulty is, kids don’t arrive with an owners manual. So, most parents by default end up parenting based on their own experience they learned consciously or otherwise from their families of origin. I often meet with parents concerned about the interactions they are having with their teen and how they might best deal with them. One consistent pattern I find is that parents are drawing on a reservoir of knowledge based on their own reality, their own upbringing. They coach, discipline, and otherwise teach their children and teens based on tenets they feel will help their child.
Parents often are unaware these tenets or principles are laden with family history and are not necessarily used by the parent based on effectiveness but instead due to the parent’s familiarity with the principle. Take for example a client I’ll call Rob. He was an executive with his company and fairly well educated. He expected his son to be a hard worker and one that is goal-driven. I was seeing his son who was in his late teens. His son was apathetic with most chores at home and often was flaky and otherwise checked out when it came to keeping on task with responsibilities and relationships. Rob would often try and lecture his son with hopes that a good strong rational talk would get some ‘sense’ into his son. What he didn’t realize was that his son was very aware of his success financially as a father and often resented internally that he could not measure up and to make matters worse his father was consistently lecturing him. So, we have a cycle; a son that resents and avoids and a father that continues to lecture with hopes his son will one day ‘get it’.
Parenting is less about a specific approach and more about the parent’s being able to locate and enter what I call teaching windows, moments when the child is teachable and is apt to listen and actually hear you. Looking for these windows and studying your child or teen’s temperament will best help you engage in ways that they can hear and ultimately follow.It is through a parent’s studying and understanding their teen’s temperament and then working to engage as an authoritative parent that one can find harmony and unity in parenting. Diana Baumrind, a psychology theorist, developed three models of parenting. I have included a document on it here in my document archive by Diana. Teenagers are often difficult as they seem to become autonomous in their relationships yet when parents employ authoritative parenting coupled with solid understanding of their child’s disposition (and all are different!) parenting can be a smoother more enjoyable ride!
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