Recently I was reading one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott. In her book, “Almost Everything”, I came across a line that literally jumped off the page shouting pay attention. She wrote “Help is the sunny side of control.” She was referring to parents feeling the desire to rescue their child and feeling that the parent should. They believe if the child would only take the parent’s suggestions things would be fine and the child would make better decisions. This type of parenting behavior robs the child of figuring thing out for themselves.
I can certainly think of times when I offered my help to someone and the truth was, I wanted them to do what I wanted. In other words, I wanted to control them. When you read the quote can you think of times when you have used control disguised as helpl?
In my parent coaching many of the parents I work with are petrified that their daughters are going to make poor judgements that will impact their lives in a negative way. I’m not just talking about parents of teens but parents of elementary age girls as well. They go to extreme measures to try to protect their daughters from mistakes and pain. What they don’t realize is that their help is robbing their daughters of the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and failures. Learning from their mistakes and failures is an integral part of a healthy life process. I think most adults, I certainly do, realize that they learned a lot more from things that were rough for them than when things went smoothly.
In my coaching practice many of the parents I work with have high anxiety concerning their ability to raise a self-reliant daughter. Their anxiety is so high that they believe the way to help their daughters succeed is by controlling all their waking hours. Parents know how to control but what they have difficulty with is having faith that their daughters are capable of figuring it out for themselves. My parent coaching is structured to help parents let go of their fears and to learn strategies to help their daughters develop confidence, kindness, compassion and the ability to think on her feet.
As you read this blog, think back on a time you stepped in to help your daughter and you did it because you were embarrassed about the outcome and what people would think of you? Jot down sometimes you did this and think of a different way you could have handle it that would help your daughter feel empowered.
One of the strategies I teach all families I work with is how to conduct an effective Family Meeting and why using this strategy is so important. Using this strategy is one of the most powerful tools to use with kids because it helps them feel they have a voice in the family, they are listened to and that some of their suggestions are implemented.
A helpful handouts I use in my parent coaching is a list of encouragement statement developed by Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott the developers of Positive Discipline. For example,” I have faith in you. I trust you to figure out what you need. I know that when it’s important to you, you’ll know what to do.” What a scary statement for many parents, especially for those that believe that the way to raise daughters is my controlling them.