Try to Be the Child’s Friend
Browse around your Facebook feed, your Twitter feed or countless mommy blogs, and you’ll see quite a few parents trying to gain your sympathies for the many problems and plights they face as parents. Work sucks, you had to get up early, such-and-such about your sex life, your work pants mysteriously smell like baby vomit, etc.
Like many, I think we’re used to seeing our parenting problems from our own viewpoint — what our own problems are. However, read & think about this quote for a second:
“What does have a workability is simply to try to be the child’s friend. It is certainly true that a child needs friends. Try to find out what a child’s problem is and, without crushing their own solutions, try to help solve them. Observe them – and this applies even to babies. Listen to what children tell you about their lives. Let them help – if you don’t they become overwhelmed with a sense of obligation which they then must repress.” – L. Ron Hubbard, from The Way to Happiness, precept entitled Love and Help Children
When was the last time you sat down with your kids, and really got to know what their problems are? I know a lot of folks try to approach parenting like a crotchety college professor might approach a student. “You don’t even know what your problems are – so just listen to what I’m telling you.” But it’s interesting to see how many parenting doors open when you really get into the child’s universe and find out what they’re trying to do and not just what you’re trying to do.
My kids are 17 months apart. My daughter (the older one) loves to play with her brother – and especially loves her wooden train tracks set. One of her big problems, though, is being able to sit with him and play, without having her master plans for railroad domination thwarted by his still-developing sharing skills. Sitting with her & talking with her about this made this pretty clear. Easy solution – get a few more sets of cheapo tracks so that their railroad can span the play room. Now, problem is solved, and all of the sudden they can play for hours, on their own, with nearly zero supervision.
Win for her, and win for me – as now I get another hour to myself to do housework.
I look forward in a big way, being able to apply this same quote to my kids as they deal with the other challenges they’ll face growing up – nasty schoolmates, trying to make the soccer team, homework, boyfriends, etc, etc. It’ll be fun, or heartwrenching as the case may be. But at least they’ll always know they have my wife & I as their friends.
2 thoughts on “Try to Be the Child’s Friend”
When I’m teaching in the classroom, I’m always trying to be best friend to the children and show them love. Teaching is love!
In general, the answer in all three situations is no. These are simple age appropriate issues that should be expected. On the other hand, you shouldn’t take lightly a problem like a teen caught smoking, stealing, or cheating. If you have unrealistic expectations of what your kids should be doing, you can actually create problems. This often happens when parents get frustrated or impatient with a 2 1/2 year old who still isn’t interested in potty training , a 6 year old who is wetting the bed , or a moody teenager. So make sure that your expectations match what your kids are developmentally able or expected to be doing. Few things can harm your children more than an inconsistent parenting style . If you are sometimes very strict, but give in other times or simply don’t seem to care what your kids are doing, they will have a very hard time knowing what is expected of them and how to act. You may think that you are doing your kids a favor by letting them do whatever they want, but most younger children find it especially hard to live without any limits. Having rules, setting limits , consistent routines, and offering limited choices will help your child know and expect what is coming throughout the day. In the book, Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child , Dr. Robert MacKenzie describes fighting back as the ‘family dance,’ in which you can become ‘stuck in these destructive patterns of communication.’ We aren’t talking about physically fighting with your child, but fighting back can take other forms, like getting mad, yelling, and repeating yourself over and over.
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