From the day our first child is born, as parents, we quickly learn that our children have minds of their own.
Whether it is the evening your son refuses to eat the Brussels sprouts on his plate (preferring a candy bar instead), the morning your daughter insists on wearing flip-flips in the snow or the day your child decides to be a chef instead of the (insert job) you always wished he would be, the journey of being a parent is always going to include moments that test our patience. The key challenge is how we respond to such incidences.
I can’t tell you the number of situations in which I have overheard a parent say to a rebellious child, “Because I told you so”. Or, “Because I know what is best for you!” I often stop and think, “Does he know what is best?”
Having known our children from conception, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking we know what our children want and what is best for them. But, if we stop to think about it, this is a silly notion. Can our parents read our minds? Do they know what is best for us as adults?
If we come from a place of knowing, children don’t feel like they are seen or heard. As a result they stop really talking to us. Therefore, instead of assuming we know what our children want and what is best for them in life, we should be curious and ask them directly on a regular basis. By engaging in honest dialog with our children about their smallest desires and their biggest dreams, we develop intimacy with our children as opposed engaging in superficial exchanges (“Honey, how was school?” “Fine mom”.) After all, if we don’t listen to our children when they are young, how can we expect them to open up to us when they have grown up?
Action: Think about something that you did not want as a child, but that your own parents thought was the best thing for you. What was the situation? How did you feel? Please share in the comments section below.
- Gonan Premfors
(Image Available under CC license by Tony 2)