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Being a GREAT parent is sometimes the most challenging work you’ll ever do…and the MOST important! 

Parents often feel confused when their child is exhibiting emotional or behavioral changes.  You may wonder if this is just a normal developmental stage or a “real” problem one should worry about.  Perhaps, you are unsure about the best way to help your child and manage the impact on your marriage and the whole family.  In some instances, children are reacting to changes in the parents’ relationship and feel worried or stressed but don’t have the coping skills to deal with this.

 

What is YOUR pattern?

Being a GREAT parent is sometimes the most challenging work you’ll ever do…and the MOST important! 

Parents often feel confused when their child is exhibiting emotional or behavioral changes.  You may wonder if this is just a normal developmental stage or a “real” problem one should worry about.  Perhaps, you are unsure about the best way to help your child and manage the impact on your marriage and the whole family.  In some instances, children are reacting to changes in the parents’ relationship and feel worried or stressed but don’t have the coping skills to deal with this.

Finding the right balance

Ask yourself, am I a “helicopter,” “best friend” or “dictator” type of parent?  No this isn’t a trick question.  In fact, there as aspects of all three styles that are important to draw from in order, to be an effective, loving parent.

The Helicopter Parent

A “helicopter parent” generally hovers over their child’s every word or move, usually, these parents have a high need to control, have too high expectations, fear their child will make a mistake, get hurt or fail.  The child’s innate need for mastery, curiosity, and experimentation can be stifled.  A great deal of anxiety is experienced by both the parent and the child.  Now the important aspect of this style is for a parent to stay engaged and aware of what the child is experiencing.  Giving the child the reassurance that making mistakes is how we learn and that he/she is still loveable are the necessary ingredients that allow children the freedom to take risks and learn new things.

 

The Best Friend

The good qualities of the “best friend” approach I would describe as being considerate, respectful, open, being a good listener, helpful, empathic, reassuring and understanding.  Being able to hear the emotional aspects of what the child/teen is coping with.  It is NOT overburdening the child with private, grownup problems or expecting the child to emotionally care for the parent by being their friend.  I also think of an overly permissive parent who needs to be liked by their child or feel that the child needs to be “happy” with the parent.

The Dictator

As for the “dictator,” I would say the only redeeming aspect in this type is that the parent puts in place structure, discipline, and limit setting.  Parents lead by having clear, age-appropriate expectations for behavior that are neither too rigid or harsh nor lax and inconsistent.  These are the building blocks for self-control, responsibility, conscience, and self-reliance.  The harmful effects of the dictator are that there is no room for self-determination, making autonomous choices, and independence.  And the most detrimental effect is one in which the child lacks the feeling of being nurtured, loved or cared for. Knowing when and how to utilize these various elements is where I can help you. I will teach you effective communication skills, conflict resolution, limit-setting, and educate you on the developmental stage your child is in. 

 

You CAN lead

You are not alone…many parents struggle with balancing their parenting skills.  I can honestly tell you that after more than 30 years of counseling children and teens, what kids most want (but won’t tell you) is for their parents to offer strong guidance, be open and empathic in listening to what they think and feel, expect responsible behavior (AKA accountability) from them, provide encouragement and praise when it is due, and instill confidence that you (the parent) will always be there for them.  All of these actions from parents provide a secure foundation for children and adolescents to experience growing pains, learn by making mistakes, and develop into responsible, caring, confident, HAPPY, and successful adults.