As a writer, many random thoughts cross my mind on any given day. Here are some from the last few days I wanted to share on parenting.
Empathy starts with asking ourselves, “How would that make me feel?,” then making choices to treat others (and ourselves) accordingly. A simple “pause” like this can make a world of difference.
Another way to say this is, treat others how you want to be treated.
Another way is, love your neighbor as yourself.
So, if you are an adult, then at some point you were a child, an adolescent, and a young adult.
That brings me to this: When parenting, remember, no one who is currently a parent had parenting experience prior to becoming a parent, only what was modeled to them, or that they observed while watching others. Therefore, none of us are experts. We are all figuring it out as we go.
So: treat your kids the way you wish you had been treated. Treat your teenager the way you wish you had been treated.
NOTE: don’t read: give your kids all the stuff you wish you could have had. Don’t throw drinking parties. That was the 80’s and we just really don’t need that repeated, do we?
I actually wanted room to explore, discover, and make my own mistakes. Most kids do…and they’ll either experience it within healthy parameters or sniff it out on their own, with or without parental permission.
I chose both options when I felt controlled.
So, do you wish your parents had tapped your teen line? Do you wish your parents smothered you so much you could barely breathe? Do you wish your parents assumed you were always lying?
Instead of fear and control driving you, masked as: concern, love, protection; what would happen if you had real conversations with your kids? The kinds you wish a trusted adult had with you years ago…not lectures, commands, or demands, but dialogues. Ones where they felt safe talking with you, not always wondering if they’re going to be grounded or disappoint you or whatever.
Kids are shorter versions of grown-ups. They crave love, belonging, and freedom to be themselves. And they deserve and desire respect.
I mean, truly, if we want to raise healthy, confident, young adults who treat others the way they want to be treated, I think it’s time for GenXers and Millennials to ground the helicopter parenting. Bring it in for a landing and circle around to empathy…ask ourselves: am I treating my kids the way I wanted to be treated…Am I treating them the way I want to be treated even now?
It’s not too late to ponder and act on this.
I get it. I adore my children. They can also give me a run for my money, but believe me when I say I love them bigger than the universe. And it’s that same love that keeps my love in check and perspective…that keeps me circling back to the question of empathy as we do this unknown life together.
Raising children isn’t about parenting as much as it’s about nurturing, teaching, and equipping kids to be healthy, independent, strong, empathic loving humans in the world.
Helicopter parenting might soothe some need in parents, but we aren’t meant to protect our kids from every potential hurt or failure. We’re ridiculous to believe we have that much control.
It’s possible we’re in their lives to be a healthy place they can land when they’re hurt or they fail, and learn how to heal, bounce back, and get up and try again.
It’s scary as all get out, this raising of the next generation, but with EMPATHY as a parenting resource, I think we’ll all be surprised how much better the next generation does it than we’re doing it.
*Opinions/thoughts my own. This is completely informed from my personal experience, both as a child and a parent.