“I give up!” That’s what we all want to scream sometimes as parents. But that’s not really an option, is it? Not for you and I, anyways. We are blessed if we have children and we want to be the best parents we can be. We want more for them and hope that they’ll turn out better than us. But let’s be honest: it isn’t easy, is it?! Some days, we just feel like we’re going to lose our minds and giving up doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
I know that, for my wife and I, there have been many times that we have looked at each other and just had to laugh and say, “We are TOTALLY screwing these kids up! We have no idea what we’re doing!” We sometimes wonder where the rule book is that you can flip open and turn to the page that shows you exactly what to do and exactly what to say to handle each situation that we’re faced with. But sadly, that book doesn’t exist.
But there is hope.
In one of the most influential and helpful books that I have ever read, authors Foster Cline and Jim Fay’s book, titled: Parenting with Love and Logic, the suggestion to “give up” is mentioned and inferred throughout. But probably not in ways that you’re thinking. Once you hear their advice, it makes perfect sense.
In today’s blog, I want to highlight some of the advice that they’ve given and some areas that we are trying to learn to “give up” in our parenting. Hopefully some of these ideas may also help you so that you don’t go crazy and lose your mind!
All you have to do is give up!
Give Up Rescuing Them
The term “helicopter parenting” comes to mind. You know the type: kids are going crazy or throwing a fit and these helicopter parents hover right over them and save them from ever feeling any pain or dealing with any trouble on their own.
While this may appear to be what all great parents would do (after all, who wants to see their children suffer?!), in fact, it may be one of the worst things you can do. Parents who use Love & Logic principles understand that there will come a day when mommy and daddy can’t be there to bail your kid out. In reality, we do our kids a great disservice by rescuing them and not allowing them to have the satisfaction of going through something difficult and finding their way out of the problem themselves. One of the best ways to keep yourself sane is to allow your children to grow up and learn to deal with adversity on their own.
Give up the notion that by rescuing them from every difficult situation that you are somehow the parent of the year. Rather, help them to know that you’re there for them, offer insights and words of wisdom, share from your failures and experiences, and help them to see new ways of dealing with life. But give up on the idea of saving them from trouble. In the end, you may just bring more trouble to them when you’re not there to do rescue them down the road.
Give Up Control
Let me ask you a question. How well do you like being ordered around and being told what to do? Be honest. It’s not very fun. Nor is it very motivating or inspiring, is it? So here’s the follow-up question: Why, then, do we think that our kids will respond to it any better?
As parents, we are in control. But none of us loved to hear the phrase, “It’s my house. THAT’S why!”. It just never helped us want to do it for ourselves. We obeyed orders like this because we had to. Not because we wanted or chose to! So think about that for a minute and think about the goals that you have for your children who will, someday, become adults. We want them to be able to choose the right path for themselves. We want them to make wise decisions and do what’s right regardless of who’s watching. That’s the brilliance behind learning to give up control.
Here’s what Foster and Cline suggest. Rather than barking orders, give options that you (the parent) are happy with.
For example, rather than saying, “Go to bed!” You could give options instead of orders and give up some of the control. Let’s say bedtime is coming up in 20 minutes. (This is a time many parents struggle with, by the way.) This is a great opportunity to give up some control and give your children options that they can decide on for themselves. You could say something like this, “Hey kids, it’s getting close to bedtime. Would you rather just go to bed now and give yourself some extra rest or go to bed in 20 minutes?” Did you catch that? You really didn’t “give up” anything but you allowed the kids to feel in control and to call the shots. Brilliant! For the sake of keeping this short, let’s just say that this one area of giving up control has made a world of difference with our kids and has kept us from many arguments and battles that many parents face. You can apply this to countless other situations. Give up control in areas where you can give options or choices and you’ll find that you gain more control in areas that matter most to you.
These are just two of the many wonderful insights from Foster and Cline. I HIGHLY recommend their book and buying a copy for you and any parent you know who this may help. It is also an incredible resource for grandparents – or anyone wanting to learn to better relate with children. Heck, it is just wise advice for dealing with people in general!
Whatever you do – don’t give up on becoming the parent that you, your children, and God want and need you to be!
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