In This Together

What if we viewed parenting as an opportunity to grow our family together? Our home could become a safe place to experience the ups and downs of life rather than a place where kids feel the pressure to be perfect. Sure, there will always be rules, but the emphasis within the rules should be around valuing each other and growing together. If your family is struggling to be on the same page, consider the following steps towards togetherness:

1. Model the respect that you are looking for from your child. When emotions run high, we tend to lose focus on respecting one another. When children disrespect or disobey parents, it often raises emotions that -if not held in check- can lead to disrespecting and devaluing your child. Next time your child raises their voice at you, remain calm and respectfully listen and then give instruction. Model for them how you want them to communicate with you.

2. Work on a goal together (positive talk, no screaming, mutual respect, helping out).  Consider parenting as an opportunity to grow together with your child. This is not a boss-employee relationship. Children are more likely to follow your lead when they feel you are on their team. If your child is struggling with a particular behavior, set a goal with them to work on it together. Remember, no matter the goal, the ultimate goal is that the behavior helps the family feel safe and promotes togetherness.

3. Maintain high expectations for yourself. Make sure you don’t expect more from your child than from yourself. Children recognize unequal expectations and this can be a source of future noncompliance. So, if you expect your child to maintain a clean room, make sure yours is clean too. And if you want your child to be respectful even when they are stressed out, you will need to model the respect when you are stressed as well.

Each of these steps will communicate to your child that you value your family and you’re willing to put in the effort to make it better together. Afterall, “Our children are watching how we live far more than they are hearing what we say. They are learning how to live by our choices, not by our words.” (L.R. Knost)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Dr. Alan Wages, Children and Family Services Manager, is from Abilene, Texas and enjoys football, a good home-cooked meal, and spending time with his family and friends.

Christine Spading, Storytelling Group Associate, is from Minneapolis, Minnesota and enjoys hiking, playing with her kids, chai tea, and dark chocolate.