How to Parent the way you want to – advice and tips for parents of teenagers
I am convinced that how we were parented has, whether we like it or not, a massive impact on how we parent. We know this, yet we don’t seem to really talk about it much or acknowledge it. Certainly, most of the experts who set out to help us with parenting don’t even touch upon this. Whatever happened and however we were parented, we will either affirm it or rebel against it and until we face up to it, we will not be able to change some of the destructive parenting patterns that, not only plague our own lives, but those of our communities and society as a whole.
You see, I always thought that the way my Mum brought me up was wrong and I felt angry at her for a long time. Now I realise she was just reacting to a pattern passed on by my Grandma (whose own Mother died when she was 8 and consequentially had to bring up the family). It was like the generational parenting pattern was broken when my Great Grandmother died and all the wisdom and knowledge got cut off and was never passed down, so that the pattern we have stems from a lost 8-year-old girl who sulked and emotionally blackmailed a lot.
I could see when I was younger that this was not how I wanted to be and embarked on a journey to decide how to parent. It is no coincidence that I started this work when my youngest was just 2. I have, through sheer thought and determination, designed for our family a different parenting style to be passed down. I broke the destructive cycle, jumped off the roundabout and learned the skills I felt were lacking.
However, for most even thinking about how they were parented can leave them angry, upset and frustrated. Or perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who look back with sheer joy.
Whatever the past, my point is that we can choose to break that cycle, but it takes time, perseverance and an ability to go into very dark places. And this is where I feel most parent coaching can miss the mark.
We need to acknowledge that these patterns are there and to encourage our clients to go within. In one of the new programmes I have put together I came up with a system that I love called the 3, 2, 1 System, and this means in essence that for every tool I give you to use, you will need to think about it for twice as long, and feel the emotions for three times as long as it takes to implement the tool. In other words, there is stuff you need to do before implementing any parenting tool.
So for example, let’s take my own home. I should know what to do in any situation and I do, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
My daughter recently sat a mock GCSE test and failed. My initial reaction was to panic, say it wasn’t good enough and wade in with a system, but I have to follow my own advice, so I took myself to my chair.
I shut my eyes and asked myself how do I feel about this? What is it bringing up for me? Where does that come from?
After this reflection it became obvious that I was linking my daughter’s success or failure with how
much of a failure I felt as a child and how, whatever I did, I was never good enough.
After realising that I asked, “By reacting the way you want to react, would this heal this old wound and put it right?”
It was clear of course that it wouldn’t!
I then went into my thinking part, which for me always includes writing. I wrote down what I wanted
for my daughter, what I loved about her and what I knew about her as a person, which made her able to handle this situation.
After this it became clear what I needed to do, so I implemented it.
“Bronte, I know you have failed you mock exam, but I trust and believe that you can put this right, is there anything you need from me?”
I could have so easily slipped into my pattern of trying to prove my Mum wrong and prove I was worth it through my daughter, but thankfully I didn’t.
I don’t tell you this to air my dirty laundry, but just to show you that by taking a few minutes out and not being afraid to confront what is in our past, we can come to better solutions.
The process in whole took me about 5 minutes. So I do believe we can be a better parent in just five minutes a day.
I think that this is an area we are ignoring and not talking about. It appears that all the parents want are tools to make their kids do this, and all that the experts want to give them is just that, but I think we need to look deeper. I think we owe it to ourselves and our children to ask bigger and braver questions and trust that we can delve into the dark place. We don’t have to stay there or even analyse it, but just be aware of what patterns are impacting us now, so we stop operating on auto pilot.