The other day, as I was sitting in my hair stylist’s chair, I overheard a mom of teenagers, haranguing loudly about how much she’d like to strangle her children. She talked about their laziness and their entitlement. She said she had had a total meltdown with her kids the night before and was at her wit’s end.
Oh, we all were listening. Hopeful, I think, for the solution. What was the end of the story?
Guess what? There wasn’t one.
How many of us have, as parents, been at the end of our ropes when it comes to our kids? We blame them for being lazy. We blame them for feeling entitled. We blame them for not participating in conversations as they look at their phones.
We allow them to speak to us as if we are their peers.
If there is any advice I would have for this mom and all those listening it would be: Be the parent.
Let’s face it. No one gives you a guide book when children are born. Parents work from their experiences. Either they want their kids to never have it as badly as they did or they watch others in their situations and try to model how to raise kids from them.
It is nothing new.
According to PEW research, the landscape of American families has changed in recent decades. The report: 5 TakeAways About Parenting in Recent Time by Renee Stepler suggests:
1. A declining share of children live in two parent households.
2. About half of American parents say they are doing a good job raising their kids.
3. Bullying and mental health are among the top concerns (But) worries differ sharply by income, race, and ethnicity.
4. Many parents struggle to find high-quality, affordable child care or after-school activities or programs.
5. A narrow majority of American parents say parents could never be too involved in a child’s education, but about four-in-ten say too much involvement could be a bad thing.
So what can we do with this information? A suggestion would be to step back and really examine what it is you like about your evolving young adult. Are you allowing them to develop their autonomy with as little intervention as possible? Do they assume that they will receive their every wish? Is it easier to give them what they want than to have constantly pestering you to cave in?
Certainly, we want the best for our kids. Sometimes that means standing on the sideline as they go through painful navigation of new jobs or bosses that suck or consequences of bad spur of the moment decisions.
All kids are not bad. One thing I have learned over the years is that ALL kids crave the “Attaboy or the Attagirl” for accomplishments they have earned on their own. My advice, based on research, is to step back, as difficult as it is. Give them a Palanca Leadership workshop or Feel.Think.Know program from which they may work alone, away from mom and dad. Young adults who take the time to explore these feelings tend to be more focused and actually more willing to work independent of parents.
Giving Tuesday is next week. Give to your kids.
Thanks for listening.