Secrets of Success: Part 1
Defining success is complex because it’s subjective, however the good news is you get to define what success looks like for you and focus on what your vision of success looks like for your child.
Secret #1 The less you focus on the idea of controlling your child’s success and the more you focus on the vision of their success, the more successful you and your child will be!
In our book H.O.M.E.: Strategies for Making Home a Success During and After Treatment, we go into great detail about defining success, a topic we committed to addressing in different ways throughout the entirety of the book because of how important it is for parents to get it right. Generations of parents, educators and frankly society as a whole have set the universal success bars that have forced children to scramble to meet them, with little time spent on identifying whether or not that bar is actually achievable or even useful for the individual child. Getting the “right” grades, making the team and getting the “right” amount of playing time, being a part of certain peer group, being in the “right” club, going to the “right” college, getting the “right” job, the list of meeting the bars of success goes on and on.
Secret # 2 As a parent, you simultaneously know and can accept that you only have control over you, while also knowing that you influence, rather than control, how your children define their own success. If we continue to set the bars of success in the ways that we have, we will likely perpetuate the cycle of setting kids up for failure; we also will likely lose the opportunity to join our children through our influence, our coaching and our support in identifying how they will strive for the success they have defined and believe is achievable.
To be able to effectively influence as a parent, your participation in conversations surrounding defining success must include:
Secret #3 your willingness to listen with curiosity rather than judgment. The more curious we are, the less judgemental we are. If you as a parent focus your energy in being genuinely curious you will find the opportunity for true connection, the opportunity to have your ideas and hopes heard, and the ability to create a feasible plan to achieve the success that you and your child both want and feel good about.
What might this sound like? Last month we focused on changing the role that you play as a parent pertaining to your child’s schooling so, let’s use a school example for defining success in a conversation with your child.
Parent: I am sure you know what our hopes are for how you show up in school, in class and with grades. What are your goals and hopes for yourself?
Assuming your child’s first answer will be “I don’t know”, you can say, “Well, I don’t want to just encourage you toward the goals I think are important so it would be great if, by dinner, you can come up with 2-3 things important to you with school.”
When your child does share something, your job is to just listen. Don’t ask for details or how they will reach those goals, don’t poke holes in their opinion. Do, say, “thanks for sharing and let me know if there is any support you want from me along the way.”
If your child’s idea of success is getting D’s to just get by, another time, the next day perhaps, you can say, “I know your goals are D’s and it is important for you to know that, in order to get some of your privileges, you will need to be getting C’s and higher.” In this process of being curious and not judgmental, you are still allowed to have some parent driven boundaries. Notice that our suggested response does not include, “wow, that is really setting the bar low and that is a pretty lazy way to define success.” Leave out the judgment, enact the parenting boundary, thus laying a foundation for working towards success with your child.
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Solutions Parenting Support, LLC is a nationally recognized parent support and transition program assisting parents and families with straightforward and compassionate skills based support prior to, during and after wilderness therapy and/or residential treatment. Solutions is a dynamic team of parent coaches who have had extensive careers as therapists in wilderness therapy or residential treatment before turning their talents towards coaching parents around the globe. The team is family system focused and are licensed professional therapists and/or social workers each with 15-30 years of experience working in wilderness therapy programs, varying levels of residential treatment programming, and transitional support.