Face parenting challenges with advice from others
Once a month, my friend Tammy and I enjoy breakfast together. We met 15 years ago when we were both pregnant for the first time.
I consider Tammy (and several other friends) part of my “village.”
As my children have grown, I’ve built and depended on my village and people who know what I’m going through and support me.
Even though Tammy has two daughters and I have three sons, it’s good for us to swap stories. Some issues are similar and some are very different.
As parents of teenagers, we face issues such as driving, sexuality, schoolwork, alcohol and other drugs, trust, texting, parties, etc.
Our last breakfast conversation focused on kids building and losing trust, which in turn translates to earning and losing privileges. The biggest question regarding trust is, “Where is the line between too much freedom and too little?”
Unfortunately, sometimes parents find out after the line is crossed.
As my neighbor says, “sometimes you have to keep giving them rope until they hang themselves ... and then reel them back in.”
Each of my sons has pushed the boundaries (too much rope) and, just as quickly, my husband and I have reeled in the line, making us “the most protective parents on the planet,” according to the boys.
What is difficult for my kids to understand is that their trust level is based on their track records in several areas of life. For example, just because one son cleans his room and is nice to his brothers two hours prior to the party does not obligate me to give permission for him to go to the party.
As my husband and I recently explained to one of our boys: “When we look at giving you privileges, we look at the whole equation. Your attitude and behavior in all areas are important, including your grades, how/if your chores are being done, etc. In addition, it has to do with a long-term pattern, not just the past two hours.”
We explained to him that each situation either builds or destroys trust, and reminded him that it takes a long time to build trust and just one incident to wipe it out.
“That’s not fair,” he said. “How I’m doing in school has nothing to do with going to this party.”
“It has everything to do with going to the party,” I said. “If you aren’t responsible with schoolwork, why would I have confidence that you’ll be responsible at this party?”
In talking with Tammy, I found that she and her husband face the same trust issues and have similar stories.
As I left the restaurant that morning, I realized how important it is for me to talk to other parents. I am not the first or only person to cross the “teen abyss,” so why re-create the wheel?
Not only do I feel less alone, but I find comfort knowing others face the same struggles. I can learn from their successes and failures.
If it takes a village to raise a child, I want my village to include people who I learn from, share with, laugh and cry with. I realize it is the only way I’ll get through the teen abyss without going completely insane.
Coaching challenge: If you are facing a challenging situation (parenting, a new career, hobby or sport, etc.), how can you find other people who are or have faced similar challenges?
What benefits do you see in tapping into these resources?
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Sheri Fisher is an intuitive life coach living in Grand Junction. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. For more information and to access her blog, go to: http://www.coachwithsheri.com.