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You Asked, We Answered: March 2024

What do I do with my child’s demands for things or even less demanding asks?

When you have a young adult at home, or who you are supporting outside of the home, while they might be asking for “I’m 18” freedom when it comes to privileges, they are not always in a position to take on all responsibilities that can come along with it, financial or otherwise. And, that is ok. It is important to have a process for slowly and incrementally passing the baton over in ways that meet them where they are with their capabilities and challenging them to step a bit outside of their comfort zone (while still being within their capability zone).

To shape this process within your values, it can be helpful to start by distinguishing “wants” from “needs”or “life” from “lifestyle”. While you might be willing to take a more active role with the needs, perhaps you can start to step away from helping with some of the wants.

For example, your child might want an appointment to color their hair. Your role might be with giving them the name of a trusted salon and their role is with scheduling an appointment and paying for it (or for half of it even).

With adolescents, demands can include financial, use of the car, or even more basic items. One parent shares, “we can both be sitting on the couch and my 16 year old will ask me to get them water. Am I rescuing them by doing it?”

With this example, we talk about the “Sandwich Spectrum”, which we also touch on in our book. In brief, we suggest that, as long as there are times when you get the water and times when your child gets you water, you are doing ok.

We encourage parents to form a habit of critical thinking, through tools like out Book of Asks, to help slow the process down and have an approach that embraces delayed gratification, responsibility and addressing pros and cons.

We focus a lot of time in coaching on being ok with “no” as well as being ok with “yes.” We work with many parents of young people who are skilled with (or at least persistent with) negotiating and there are.

Some tips to consider:

  • Make a list of wants and needs.
  • Have your young adult child identify one of the wants to start being in charge of (financially or otherwise).
  • No IOUs — you know that you will follow through with your side of it but make sure that your child’s part is done up front. If they are paying for half of something, make sure they give it to you up front for example. This helps them to build tolerance for responsibility and for delayed gratification.
  • Critical thinking—use our book of asks to help you build a process around decision making. What would help you get to yes, what might you need to see and over what period of time that can help you get to yes with certain asks.

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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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