It’s so hard to see your child unhappy. Whether he’s crying from fatigue or a skinned knee, when your child’s unhappy, you’re unhappy. Raising a child entails years on an emotional roller coaster, so you’d best buckle in and prepare.
Not all of us had wonderful childhoods — in fact, most of us did not — but we grow up and find ourselves with children. Not all of us had fantastic parents who equipped us on how to raise kids; in fact, most of us did not. The majority of us are a messy combination of instincts, love and winging it when it comes to our kids.
When our kids get upset, how we respond can help or hinder them. If we tend to make a big deal about little things, then they become big things. If we can manage to downplay — or at least show some perspective, sensitivity and empathy — they will be much better off. Adults who can calmly deal with life’s curveballs give a tremendous gift to their children — resiliency.
Backbone Needed for Parenting
Look, there’s no “right” way to raise a child, but we do know from research that being an authoritative parent (not a doormat, in other words) is good for them. That means you have to have a backbone when managing your kids. You want your child to listen, respect and trust you rather than fear you. However, if you go too far with authority and enter into being an authoritarian, you risk having your child turn away from you. If he grows fearful of you, his sweet and trusting spirit will disappear from you and he’ll only show up for real when he feels safe. This is a tricky matter, so finding your balance with authority is worth mastering if you want to raise a child who can handle life’s slings and arrows. If your child trusts and respects you, he will learn how to be resilient from you.
And life’s slings and arrows will come.
School’s in. There’s a lot going on in young kids’ lives. I’m troubled by some of it because we’re letting devices take care of their every little need. And we’re all allowing it! Oh, OK. There are some parents who are hold-outs. Some who won’t allow Snapchat or Xbox or TV or the Internet. At some point though, your child will discover these things and want what he doesn’t know. And when your child starts school, his need to be “cool” will kick in, too. Pay attention. Don’t keep your head down so much. Be there. Raise resiliency.
I have a sticky note on my bathroom mirror with a few pointers that I read while brushing my teeth. It helps me. This is what’s on it: 1) Be involved. 2) Say everything to them through a context of love. 3) Listen more than talk. 4) Never give up.
I hope that helps you, too. Raising kids from 0 - 18 is hard!