Guest post from Josh Shipp
Let’s discuss the important difference between parenting and policing.
Here’s the uncomfortable truth: most parents either tend toward being too permissive (and lose authority because they don’t enforce rules) or being too authoritarian (and lose authority because they’re not loving enough).
Every parent I’ve ever met (myself included) tends toward one of these two extremes.
Here’s how to navigate that minefield.
I. POLICING PARENTS: Advice For Parents Who Tend to Be More Authoritative.
If you want to be more effective as a parent, you’re going to have to do something that’s not always easy. You need to spend time intentionally ENCOURAGING your child and being PATIENT and LOVING WITHOUT PERFORMANCE CONDITIONS.
Not by barking orders at them.
Here’s how most kids spell love. T-I-M-E.
They need time with you. I call it: The “Be With” Factor.
Just “Be With” your kid. When they have a difficult time communicating their feelings and seem distant — taking time to be with them is pretty much all you can give. And that’s pretty much all they need. I would sit down and intentionally make a list of questions that you genuinely would like to know the answer to.
1. Who is your best friend? What makes them your best friend?
2. Who is someone in your school that you have a hard time getting along with? Why?
3. Who is your favorite teacher at school? Why?
4. What is your favorite song? Play it for me. Why does that song mean so much to you?
Being a parent means being “a student of your kid.” And for teens, it’s all about the “be with” factor.
So “be with” them.
Believe me. They need time with you and want time with you and need your approval and love more than you can possibly know. YES, even when they don’t exactly articulate it.
II. PERMISSIVE PARENTS: For Parents Who Tend to Be Less Authoritative.
Parents in this camp generally feel as though things are happening in their home that make them feel out of control. Often their teen is openly rebellious or defiant or disrespectful, and the parent is at a loss for what to do.
The key to setting boundaries is to involve your entire family in the process, getting everyone on the same page. Literally. I call that page, “The Family Contract.”
Here’s how you can make Family Contracts work for you.
MAKE THE CONTRACT
First off, I want to be as clear as I can. Family Contacts, to work, must be written with all the parties involved. Kids. Parents. Everyone.
The Contract must have three sections. Privileges, expectations, and consequences.
SECTION 1: Privileges.
This outlines what kind of age-appropriate privileges parents will provide the kids. In other words: freedoms.
SECTION 2: Expectations.
Just like your kid will have not have any problems listing privileges they desire, you likely won’t have to brainstorm too long to figure out what kind of behaviors you want to see from your kid in your home.
SECTION 3: Consequences.
Simply state that the consequences for these expectations not being met. It’s important this is determined in advance, to help you follow through.
No matter which side of the spectrum you line up on, there is good news. If you take these steps to counteract your natural parenting tendencies, you’ll see your influence actually grow because your relationship with your teen will be so much stronger. And you’ll be parenting from a position of influence, love and empowerment.