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Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Paint by Numbers, useful in therapy, but a poor way to parent.

(In honor of Father's Day which is upon us tomorrow, I am re-posting and editing this blog at it still applies today as it did when it was originally written...) It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.   Those true words were spoken in "A Tale of Two Cities", but in a way that applies all the resources we have for parenting today.  We have so many 'experts' giving us advice on how to parent.  They tell us:
  • What set of steps we should take when our kids won't listen.
  • What illness or issue our kid may or may not have, the precise symptoms to look for and how to treat them.
  • How to be reach out to your child and/or meet him or her on their level.
  • What activities they should participate in to become an 'adjusted adult'.
  • What 'decisions' or 'choices' we should allow them to have.
  • What they should eat, what they shouldn't eat.
  • What is a good structure for their day, week, month, year and life.
  • Etc.
In other words, when in doubt, find the resource which tell us what to do and follow the script.   If suggested plan A doesn't work, try plan B.  If suggested plan B, doesn't work, try plan C.  You almost wonder how the hell previous generations survived into adulthood given what few resources they had relatively speaking.

No don't get me wrong, clearly having more resources and better resources is a good thing.  However, we should be careful not to replace 'real parenting' with a series of steps or Dr. Phil's daily wisdom.   We should not 'pray' to the gods of children's self-help books and take their wisdom as gospel.  Nor should we substitute verbatim a therapist or counselor's words for our own intuition.  In other words, you just can't apply "paint by numbers" technique to raising a child.  That is to say, mindlessly apply techniques based on an expected result and then be surprised or dismayed when your children don't do well with them.

There is absolutely no substitute for spending time with your child and getting to know him or her.  
See 2D vs. 3D relationships.  That was meant more so for romantic relationships, but much of the same concepts still apply.

While I understand and accept the notions of structure, discipline and consistency.  I believe that many people overlook or underutilize what I call "Intuitive parenting".   So, what does that look like?  Intuitive parenting to me includes some of the following:

  • Paying attention or 'listening' to our kids.  We may perceive that they aren't doing what we want or need them to do because they just want to do what they want.  We also might perceive that they just don't want to listen us.  But often, there is a reason why they aren't 'listening', even if it is misguided.  Sometimes the key is asking the right question to them.  For example, if he/she is difficult about brushing their teeth, don't automatically assume it is because they are lazy or whatever.  It could be that the toothpaste they are using 'burns' their mouth.  Seek what is block, don't assume your kid is 
  • Showing flexibility at obvious points.   
    • When a child is throwing a fit or being difficult, it is easy to get into a shouting match, to give in or too play Freud with him or her.   Sometimes, you just need to go outside the usual techniques to disrupt the pattern.  For example, appeal to his or her funny bone.  If you can get them laughing, you may very well throw them off their 'tantrum' pattern.
    • Too much rigidity in their schedule, can actually be a detriment.  
      • For example, if he or she is having a horrible day, your child might just need you to waive the normal bedtime to give him or her a chance to talk about it with you without worrying about exact number of sleep hours.
      • Sometimes you just have to alter the 'plan' for the day to take into account issues your child is having that day.  You could try to press on with the script for the day and scold your child when he or she interrupts or disrupts the script or you could change up the script a little avoid a blowup.
  • Keeping track of what's important to him or her and without announcement showing that, especially at a point they could use it.  Sometimes, they just need a reminder that you love them and that what is important to them is important to you also.
  • Completely mixing it up with him or her.  Being serious when it is appropriate to, but showing a lighter, even playful side.  Express that side when you see they could use it.
In short, not always sticking to a script or agenda and not following a set of "talking points", but being open enough to read your child their needs.  Not forgetting about his or her long terms needs, but not letting the push to fill those get in the way of meeting their immediate or short term emotional, mental and spiritual needs.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Closer mentality: The outlook necessary to be a successful parent.

Being a successful parent means answering the call anytime under any circumstance often without a whole lot of warning.  The way I see it you have to have a closer mentality like as in baseball.  In a way, this applies most strongly to being a single parent, but applies to parents in general.

A successful closer (like a successful parent):
  • Has to be able to have a short memory.  He has to forget a recent bad outing.
    • He has to be aware on some level of what went wrong, but he cannot focus on the bad outing last game, lest he start to doubt too much his abilities.  Similarly, a parent has to forget having had a bad night last night with their child.
    • He can't focus on blowing the save and the game and letting his team down.  Last game is in the past and his team needs him now.  He's not very useful to them if he's letting last night's failure destroy his rhythm and therefore his success.  Similarly, a parent 'fail', whether it is like not being attentive enough as you are recovering from tough times or simply like forgetting to make sure they are fully packed for school on a yesterday, needs to be forgotten.   If you are focused on the fail, it is likely to distract you from the task at hand in working with your child.  
      • The batter at the plate will not care why you are distracted and ineffective, he will hit the poor pitches you throw a long way.
      • Your child might sense weakness in your resolve, due to guilt/shame associated with past failures, and take advantage of it to pressure you into giving him/her what they want.
  • Has to be able to fake it on a night when he doesn't have his best stuff .  He can't let the batter at the plate 'know' that he is having an off night and is lacking confidence in his stuff.  He has to exude--even if it is faked--an attitude that he owns the plate.  Similarly a parent might be having an off-night and/or a night of doubt, yet he/she has to fake confidence and/or decisiveness.  
  • Has spent time/years preparing for that role.  There are few to whom this role comes naturally to them.
    • Some have spent years of working on control.  They keep on tossing pitch after pitch after pitch until they get a groove or feel for the pitches.    In the meantime, they have to keep throwing.  Similarly, a parent often has to go through growing pains in which he/she presses their kid to do what he needs to, even when the kid fights it.  If a parent is consistent and persistent, he or she has a much greater chance of gaining 'control' over the child.  That is to say, having the kid listen fairly well.
    • Some have come from other roles such as a setup man and when they gain a feel, they get promoted.  This is like a parent who spends time building up authority with a younger kid and as a result is more likely to be able to exert that authority when the kid is older.

A little more specific comparison of closers vs. parents: there are two types of closer situations in bullpens.  Let's examine a closer situation in which there is THE closer.  He is the one the coach or team will live and die with.  That's just like a single parent household, ultimately in a true single parent household, a kid will thrive or suffer depending on if the parent is effective.  Alternatively, let's consider a closer by committee situation.  In that case, the coach will choose who will close out the game depending on factors such as who has the best stuff, is the freshest, has the best matchups and the like.  In other words, the coach has the luxury of choosing whom he thinks will best handle a given game.  However, if the one he decides appears to be struggling, he can readily swap out for another 'closer'.  Similarly, in a two parent house, on a given night or in a given situation, there is the luxury of choosing whom will primarily handle the exercise of authority.   If one parent seems to be having a bad night, he or she can defer to other parent to back him or or her.

Back to the main point, however.  For successful parenting like closing you have to:
  • Train yourself to 'forget' the bad days.  Don't get stuck in the self-blame/shame.
  • Fake confidence on days in which it is lacking.  Fake it to yourself and others.
  • Be consistent and persistent.
Applies to biological as well adoptive parents:

Just because...