Pre-teen hormones, teenage angst, your own nightmares about what may happen in a few years; Look around to other families with very difficult teens, heartbreak, distress, or even worse. The heart of a young family can be gripped with fear just thinking about what may be ahead.
Now there is hope! Your Stay Connected Challenge™ will equip you with new ideas, tools and resources to allow you to think, feel and be confident that your family can navigate the turbulent waters ahead. Only one warning – START NOW WHILE YOUR CHILDREN ARE SMALL. DO NO NOT WAIT. Ok, let’s get started. As your own personal Family Coach I will offer you a start today; a place to begin a wonderful journey of deep and lasting connection.
YOUR CHANGING ROLE
Being a parent is a lifelong commitment that begins with the birth of a child and lasts through all developmental as well as chronological phases of life. We don’t stop “parenting” when our kids turn eighteen. As our children change and grow, what do we as parents do to evolve with them? We can’t stand still and sit by and watch our kids change and not attend to our own evolution as a parent.
The Stay Connected Challenge™ gives you an opportunity to grow, reach for new learning and stretch – right along side your changing child and …yes even the inevitable…your evolving …(gulp!) teenager. While the primary relationship remains the same, your role needs to change for you the parent, as your child develops. Imagine yourself passing through three distinct phases, or parenting roles, over the course of the first twenty years of your child’s life:
Parenting Your Child from 0 to 20 Years
0 ——- 6 7 ——- 12 13 —— 20
Parent as Teacher Parent as Administrator Parent as Coach
Parent as Teacher
Think of your first role during the formative years of the young child (approximately 0-6 years) as PARENT-TEACHER. You are your child’s first contact with mental and physical learning. You literally spend thousands of hours together in day-to-day activities, feeding, rocking, reading, and playing. It is a time of physical intensity in response to the child’s need. It is a time of nurturing and teaching.
Parent as Administrator
At about six or seven years of age, the mental transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” has occurred, and the child can begin to absorb information independently. In the middle years (roughly 7-12), your child begins to initiate activities and create social groups, and needs an adult to help organize events and provide transportation, among many other supportive functions. Without completely abandoning your role as parent-teacher, you take on the additional role of PARENT-ADMINISTRATOR-managing your child’s schedule and enabling him to explore his growing interests.
Parent as Coach
In the early teen years, a child’s intellectual process expands with new capability for abstract thought. As your child begins to manage her own scheduling and decision
making, you may be fired from your role as administrator on the spot. Then what? Your job as parent goes on, but the role you play must change. At this point, you must make a conscious decision: Continue to monitor homework, nag about picking up clothes, meet your teen’s silence with your frustration-or accept nature’s changes and take on the role of PARENT-COACH.
ACTION STEPS TO TAKE NOW!
Assess where your child is and where you are on the child and parent continuum. Any “Aha Moments?” Then imaging your darling little one as a pre-teen. Now go one step further and imagine your child looking eye to eye with you as a teenager. Take a breath and decide on your intention to stay connected in a positive way throughout each phase. Never ever again speak of the “dreaded teen years.” Speak of them with confidence and positive anticipation.
Empower your children to stay connected with you, by replacing “I am proud of you” with “I respect you….for your (fill in the quality, not the behavior or accomplishment.” Introducing the word “respect” into your day to day family vocabulary has proven to create lasting….well….respectful communication. This will slowly introduce an easy “parent as coach” warm up that you will build on as your child grows.
Cut out and Tape the poem, “A Message to Parents” to your wall or refrigerator in the kitchen as thousands of families around the world have done. Stay connected until we meet up again here next month for more ideas about Staying Connected!
by Diana Sterling, Certified Family Coach. Diana Sterling is the author of The Parent as Coach Approach, 2008 White Oak Publishing. She is a Certified Family Coach and developer and instructor of Family Coach Training at Relationship Coaching Institute as well as wife, mother and step-mother. www.dianasterling.com. Visit the website to learn about Diana’s complimentary 30 minute Discovery Session, other books and products – all proven to help you stay connected with your kids.