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Could what you are saying be hurting your child?

As we head into the summer, preparing for more time together than we are used to, be aware of some common phrases that hurt your kids more than help.

Passed down through the generations are a number of common phrases we have deemed useful when it comes to showering our children with wisdom and life lessons. We heard them when we were growing up, and didn’t like it when we did. And now, as though they have been woven inevitably into the vernacular of parenting, we use them with our children.

There were times when my now young adult children were younger when I heard the words bubbling within me and the part of me that swore I would never say it was there, trying to lasso them and trap them on the inside. “Don’t say it, don't say it, don’t say it” repeated internally as I listened to one of the kids explain something away and punctuate with, “it isn’t fair.” I know you know where I am going. You have done it too. I don’t even want to write the words here, like I’ll be summoning Voldemort or Beetlejuice (Beetlejuice 2 release date is in September, fyi).

“Life isn’t fair.” There, I said it. AHHH!

Leading up to Covid and in the aftermath, we witnessed a growing number of adolescents who do not want to grow up. We never thought we would get to a point with parent coaching where we helped parents set rules that required their children to learn to drive but symptoms of anxiety and “pathological demand avoidance” both blossomed and many kids stopped leaving their rooms.

One of the threads we explored through this time was the question, “what are you doing to model that being an adult is awesome?” Many parents responded, “being an adult is not awesome.” So why are we surprised that our kids don’t want to grow up? And what can we do to change that?

“Life’s not fair”; “it only gets harder from here”; “just wait until you are paying all the bills and tax season comes around”; “if you can’t clean the kitchen fully then how are you even going to keep a job without getting fired?” Any of these sound familiar? One of our parenting lessons seems to be that growing up is nothing but stress and responsibility.

Using these as part of your parenting messaging is hurting and not helping your children. It is not preparing them with the competency and love for living that will increase their desire to build resilience through the hard times.

At the other end of the spectrum we have parents who embrace comfort and ease as the path, at times to avoid conflict and tension in the home and at times because their heart forward parenting approach deprioritizes help around the house. While the day to day tension at home might be less, the child’s ability to live life fully decreases as well.

We also hear, and have used, statements such as, “Let’s_______ so we don’t upset your mother/father/parent.” There are so many ways when we devalue one parent or the other or set the other up to be the bad guy. I am sure you can come up with a few that you have let fly in the past month.

When one parent is using this to shift a child’s behavior, it creates the “good guy/bad guy” dynamic that bites you time and again and deteriorates the co-parenting relationship as well as the parent-child relationship.

So, what can you do?

  • Notice.
  • Build awareness.
  • Claim without shame and shift the tone of the messages that are really important to teach.

While we are not in the business of blaming parents for their children’s struggle…

We ARE in the business of strength building so that parents can proudly look at themselves with a desire to learn, grow, and change for the benefit of the whole family.

We will help you find opportunities for growth and a mindset of finding what is possible in whatever situation you face.

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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.

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