Nearly every family that includes both parents and kids is also home to those endless skirmishes that seem never to end. Make your bed. Don’t be so messy. You should be more organized. Your grades need improvement. Nothing electronic until your homework is finished! You’ll never get into a good school if you don’t work harder! The battles never end.
As a parent, you want only good things for your children. And you don’t mind badgering them ceaselessly to get to those good things, right? Eternal vigilance is the best medicine. Or is it?
As a son or daughter, you want more independence, fewer rules, less structure. (After all, your opinions should count most. Your parents are from the Stone Age, just like most of their advice.) Anyway, a big part of growing up is learning to trust your own judgment – making your own decisions. Why can’t they just allow you to make the key choices? It’s unfair.
Okay. Let us try to find the truth, wherever it may be hiding.
Although parents may appear to be from the Stone Age, most have the advantage of life experience. That makes their advice – selectively, on important topics – valid and useful. Too much advice, though, can be counterproductive, and kids will turn off your mike.
Sons and daughters do need to have some autonomy – the right to participate in making important choices. They will need to have the freedom to touch the hot stove once in a while, too; parents can’t always be there to intervene. Without such decision-making experience, kids won’t develop the skills needed for successful assimilation to adulthood. Sometimes, of course, the best parental advice is no advice at all. Even better, a referee might help! A battle assistant. But where can one be found?
Families whose children attend great schools – really good learning environments – have such referees. Caring teachers and counselors have the time and inclination to take many burdens from parents’ shoulders, thus improving the dynamic at home. Yet they can also represent the student’s perspective, as they offer advice similar to that which Mom and Dad would love to impart, without all of the emotional complications of family. Kids are more receptive to adult input when it comes from someone other than a parent. Having such a competent third party – a great teacher, coach, or counselor – aids communication between parent and child and leaves fewer battles to be fought.
The Blessing of A Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel
Yes, Your Teen is Crazy by Michael J. Bradley
Parenting Teens With Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay
- The Parent As Counselor (myiesolutions.wordpress.com)