What Strategies Will You Use in Your Parenting?
When I was a young mother I realized something pretty dire. I didn’t exactly have the character traits that suited being a stellar parent.
Yes, this is coming from a parenting coach. You know those moms who are so patient and understanding, willing to let their children explore and go at their own pace – to do it “their way”? Not me. I found myself holding my breath and feeling my blood pressure rise at their slowness, messiness, and absolute lack of instinct for self-preservation. I sought all the warm fuzzies of motherhood but found myself tired, frustrated and feeling run over from a simple outing with the kids to the grocery store.
I considered myself to be a hotshit woman who took charge, directed and moved life forward. In other words, I was bossy, stubborn, and I got things done. I loved this about myself. It worked really well in my solo days, but then there was a rude awakening when I discovered that bossing the kids wasn’t so hot as a mother. They were very unhappy with the boss of the house, and thankfully I was smart enough to know that if they didn’t like having a boss as toddlers, the boss was going to be really underappreciated when they were 12.
But, telling myself, “Vicki, just knock off the bossing” lasted about 15 minutes before I was back to telling them the right way to do things. This was WHO I WAS and no self-talk was about to fire the boss.
My goal as a parent has always been to:
Strengthen their emotional health, and
Bossing the kids to pick up the backpacks, hang the coats, take off the shoes, wash the hands, and do the homework, certainly didn’t help me enhance our relationship (who likes being bossed around?), nor foster independence (I’ll tell you how to do it because you can’t figure it out on your own), nor strengthen emotional health (you’re not capable of doing it yourself) or prepare them for life after 18 years (better call mom since I always told you how to do it). OUCH.
But I didn’t know how to stop. I needed a plan for keeping myself (and my family) moving forward and let go of what I knew wasn’t working. I developed a tool that has been my most sought after resource in my 20+ years of coaching. A parenting roadmap. Call it your direction, your true north, your parenting plan.
Every self respecting parent needs a roadmap because none of us are perfect, and no one really prepares us for this parenting thing.
What’s a Parenting Roadmap?
A Parenting Roadmap is a short-term strategy with a long-term view. It helps you decide what strategies you want to use in order to help your children grow into people they are capable of becoming.
Four Questions to ask when deciding what parenting strategies to use (or not use):
In order for me to create my parenting roadmap, I had to determine my inspiration. My WHY. What was all this for? Below, I’m sharing the four questions I asked myself to tweeze out the real reasons I wanted to boss my kids around. If you’d rather watch a short video on these four questions, you can find a video HERE.
1. Identify WHAT YOU WANT
For me, I wanted to stop controlling. For you, it might be yelling, or counting, or bribing, or nagging… It’s easy to identify where we screw up. What’s not so easy is replacing it with something else. It’s kind of like giving up sugar (not that I would know:). The experts say, you can’t just give sugar up – you need to fill the void with something more healthy.
Instead of bossing, I asked myself what I could replace bossing with… For me, I decided I’d need to say “something” (otherwise the duct tape would never come off), so instead of telling what I think they should do in any given scenario, I opted to ask the kids questions.
2. Ask WHY you should change your ways
What’s the point of changing your ways unless you really know what’s at stake? We fall off the parenting wagon when we forget WHY we need to change. For me, it was resorting back to my I Told You So Ways when I forgot what would happen when the kids got older. At 12, they’d definitely hate me because I always told them what to do, and at 16? Forget it – there’s no way they’re coming to me with their biggest issues around parties, peer pressure and dating because they’d think I wouldn’t listen and judge instead. And 18? They’re gone and not looking back. That’s the WHY that hits you in the gut and you know you’re onto something big.
3. Does your parenting strategy actually WORK?
This is tricky for so many of us. We don’t really want to look in the mirror and tell ourselves that our current strategy sucks. But if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know if what you’re doing is a trick, bribe, or gimmick for momentary complacency or if it’s actually helping your kids grow into resilient, independant grown-ups. Sure, we can bully the kids to do what we want, but does it work for the long haul? For me, I know if I continued to boss, I’d only have to resort to meaner, uglier bossing and it would eventually come back to bite me in the ass.
No, bossing doesn’t work.
4. What’s your BELIEF about why you use this strategy?
This one is tough. In other words, what about you keeps you coming back to relying on this strategy? For most of us we way, “it’s just who I am” or “it’s how I was raised”. For me, I had to dig deep into WHY I wanted to control my kids. Was it for prestige? Was it my fear of failing? Was it because my parents controlled me? No. I kept thinking back to when I developed into the badass girl who took charge and how it helped me feel in control and safe.
For me, I realized my propensity for controlling my kids was because I felt I was keeping them safe. Safe from failure, heartbreak, embarrassment, injury and who knows what else.
And I then realized my controlling my kids to keep them “safe” was in direct conflict with how I wanted to parent. I wanted them to be able to take risks, foster their independence, set their limits and know that I trusted them. I wanted to be a parent who supported their growth and the only way it would happen is if I CHALLENGED MY THINKING about my control.
So, this was the foundation of my parenting roadmap and it’s also become the first thing I ask of all my parents in my courses.
1. What do you want?
2. Why do you want it?
3. Does it work?
4. What belief keeps you from being the parent you want to be?
Remember, our actions are a result of our thinking. If you’re seeking change or a new direction in your parenting, new thinking is in order. Go ahead and look in the mirror, ask yourself what’s holding you back and watch out… things can shift pretty quickly!
Please take a look at my 19-min video if you’d like more information about the four questions and how they are the first step in conquering your ineffective parenting habits.