Many parents feel they are doing a poor job of raising their kids for many different reasons. Sometimes it’s based on the choices our kids make as teenagers, many times it is based on our relationship with our kids during the teenage years and some of it is based on what other people say about our kids.
I believe all parents wrestle with the question of whether they are good parents and will their child grow up to be a responsible adult but unless we seek outside help we can only parent with the skills we adopted from our parents and recall what was beneficial and let go of the tools that didn’t work.
My experience as a parent began in 1988 when my wife and I adopted my 6-year-old nephew two months after we were married. The county child services offered free parenting classes if we wished to attend but because we lived 45 minutes away in a different county we felt that we would rather attend classes closer to our home. But due to the time constraints of our jobs and child care, we never took the time to attend classes we just leaned on our Moms for instructions.
Today our son is 37 years old and is the father of two beautiful daughters, one 3 years old and one 11 months old and it is fascinating to watch him and his wife interact and teach the girls.
Looking back on the years when my son was a teenager we started to question our parenting skills. There was one time when he was 15 years old where he began to spend a lot of time in his room alone and not want to spend as much time with us, did not want to do simple chores like take out the garbage or mow the lawn and we had to find unique ways to discipline him that would enable him to that we love and care about him and just wants what is best for him. But I believe the most important thing my wife and I established was that our work was one. If I said no to my son wanting to go out with his friends and he asked his mother the same question the answer was always the same “what did your father say?” if your father said no then it is no.
I grew up in a single-parent home with my mom and two older sisters and I had three basic needs I had 1. Did my mom love me? 2. Food and clothing. 3. A place to call home. But the most important to me was number 1. I can still remember crawling up next to my mom on the couch watching TV and feeling her arms wrapped around me. I felt safe and secure in her arms and I felt loved.
One of the most important things I wished my mom would have enforced in our home was open communication, it would have eliminated so much drama. I would have much rather learned about topics like politics, sex, and discrimination from my mom than from my friends or the media. However, the generation that my mom grew up in just didn’t talk about those things.
Open communication results in each family member feeling loved and respected. It also makes it easier to handle conflicts when they arise. The basics of resolving disagreements include listening, empathy, supportive communication, and collaborative problem-solving. If you adopt love and open communication in your home you will equip your kids to be adults who are more comfortable talking about their feelings.