I will admit - I like to be in control. As a parent, this means I have to hold myself back on a daily basis from doing something for or saying something to my kids that undermines not only their ability to do things for themselves but also how they feel about themselves. It is a regular battle. Author and parent educator Vicki Hoefle suggests duct tape - for the parents’ mouth! Beyond ripping all the hairs off my upper lip, holding my tongue has become a daily practice that I am constantly working to master. Holding my tongue allows me to step back and think about what is really important as the end result of any given interaction I have with my kids. Again, in no way am I proficient with this -- it is a daily practice.
What is really important? That I teach my kids skills, that I have faith in their abilities, that I encourage them, and that I strengthen rather than fracture our relationship. How I react to and interact with my kids can build character strengths in my kids or tear them down.
Read this week's column in Jackson Hole News and Guide to consider the idea that while we are living with toddlers through teens, we are actually raising an adult. This is the last in my four-part series on ideas that stem from the college admissions scandal. See below to find past articles in the series exploring our deep love for our kids, anxieties we may have about their future and how we can help our kids to grow into thriving adults.
In thinking about this week's column in Jackson Hole News and Guide, I've found that it's really hard for me to not help my kids. In our house, we have expectations that our kids' morning routines are their own. This includes making their own breakfast and lunch. But sometimes they wake up tired; they don't given themselves enough time; they end up late for school. So what do I do? I help. I have no problem with this on the surface. I enjoy helping others. Yet my help with lunch making or putting dishes in the dishwasher is not allowing them to fully be in charge of their lives or learn what it takes to get somewhere on time. And honestly, since this pattern has become somewhat frequent in our house, I can become resentful. Resentful that I become the maid, resentful that I allow boundaries to slip.
This morning I said to my kids, "It's no skin off my back if you are late to school". I said this with kindness. Whatever consequences they receive from the school for being late is on them. I also said, "the problem is that it's really hard for me to not help, especially when we're all running around and stressed about being late". I told them I'm going to try really hard to stop helping in the mornings. This will be hard for me, and in reading this it may sound unkind. But because this problem keeps coming back in our house, my helping is not teaching them responsibility for their own lives.
My family's morning routine is just a small example of the things we do for our kids that they are capable of doing for themselves. Where do you find the balance between helping your kids and holding them responsible for doing things for themselves, even if it means there might be consequences if they don't get it "right"? Read this week's column in the Jackson Hole News and Guide to consider the balance between helping our kids navigate life experiences and sheltering them from what life throws their way; and the fear and love that motivates us to do things for our kids.
The recent college admission scandal brings up many thoughts on today’s parenting challenges. My newest column in Jackson Hole News & Guide is the third in a biweekly four-part series that explores our deep love for our kids, anxieties we may have about their future and how we can help our kids to grow into thriving adults.
I've been thinking a lot about my recent column in Jackson Hole News & Guide titled "Think who, not what, you want your kids to be". Take a minute and think -- what is most important to you in your child's development as they launch into adulthood? Does it stem from values and internal character traits, or does it stem from external forces and material gains? There can be arguments for the value of both; and often in today's world it can be easy to overlook the internal traits for the external gains.
While the title of the article speaks to the importance of our kids' character, the article is mostly about our fears and worries about our kids' futures. I know all too well that our fears and worries can come up when we focus on who our kids become just as much as when we focus on what our kids become. The point is that relaxing about our kids' futures might be the best way for them to not only thrive but to also allow their own identities, hopes and dreams to emerge.
The recent college admission scandal brings up many thoughts on today’s parenting challenges. This week's column is the second in a biweekly four-part series that explores our deep love for our kids, anxieties we may have about their futures and how we can help our kids to grow into thriving adults.
Read my latest article to ponder these ideas more - and check out my newest class "Raising an Adult" if you want to explore these ideas in your family.
I love my kids. Yet the degree to which I shelter my kids from life's challenges, or do things to make life easier for them, is not necessarily a measure of my love. I've found that loving and letting go, witnessing failure and despair, and withholding my opinions and advice can be extremely hard. Yet doing this with kindness and support shows my kids that I am there for them and that I trust in their abilities, that failure is OK, and that they are capable of getting back up again. By no means do I excel in this - it is a continuous practice.
The recent college admission scandal brings up many thoughts on today’s parenting challenges. My recent column in Jackson Hole News & Guide is the first in a biweekly four-part series that explores our deep love for our kids, anxieties we may have about their future and how we can help our kids to grow into thriving adults.
What thoughts do you have about the college admissions scandal? Are there areas where you could let go a bit and hand over some of the reins to your kids? I know there are for me!
Read my latest article in Jackson Hole News & Guide to ponder these ideas more - and check out my newest class "Raising an Adult" if you want to explore these ideas in your family.
During my kids' school spring break my family and I spent five days backpacking through canyons of Escalante National Monument in Utah. We car-camped the night before our trip, and the minute we got out of the car to unload our gear, I felt the layers shed from all of us. A feeling of freedom and levity filled the air. The next day, as we descended into the canyon toward the Escalante River, the de-layering continued - the stressors of daily life slipped away. We laughed, reconnected, became playful. We all came back into ourselves.
Often I feel at best as a parent when I am away from home with my family. Read my latest article in Jackson Hole News & Guide where I ponder how we can retain our strong family bonds even while we are immersed in the busyness of our daily lives at home.
Rarely do we talk about the challenging reactions and experiences we have as parents - yet we all have them! We worry that we will be judged, but we might feel more connected if we share our stories - both the good and the bad. Just as we laugh together at the crazy antics of our kids, we can also lend a listening ear and support one another when we are at our wit's end. Sometimes it's nice to hear these words from another parent: "I know, I've been there".
Read my latest article in Jackson Hole News & Guide to dive deeper into the idea that we all have hard times as parents, and wouldn't we feel more supported if we felt like we were all in it together?
I was talking with a friend the other day about raising kids. We discussed how we as parents, myself included, can get triggered by our kids' behaviors and strong emotions. Many of us grew up with parents telling us to stifle our emotional responses - the real feelings we had to certain situations. Now that we have kids of our own, we find it hard to be around our kids when they express their true feelings in strong ways. Some of us grew up with parents who had strong emotional reactions of their own. They yelled or had otherwise angry outbursts. And some, like my friend, grew up with parents who never yelled.
How we were parented impacts how we parent. There is nothing wrong with us - or our parents. Living with another person whether they are 3, 13, or 23 can be challenging - especially if they don't play by the ordered, rational adult world we are used to. It is normal for us to feel triggered. Yet reacting strongly to these triggers does nothing to maintain a strong relationship or teach our kids how to manage their strong emotions.
What is it you need to maintain calm so that you can respond to your kids and give them what they need in the moment? Read my latest article in Jackson Hole News&Guide to dive deeper into the idea that the first step in responding to our kids has to do with us - the parents.
There have been countless times as a parent when I have thrown my hands up in the air with no idea of how to respond to my kids in certain situations. I often find myself turning to parenting books or online articles looking for ideas, but I can sometimes leave feeling more confused than when I started. The articles, often backed by evidence give me great ideas in theory, but don't always help me when I'm in the trenches with my individual kids, my individual triggers, and our individual interactions.
My latest article published in Jackson Hole News and Guide talks about parenting styles: strict, permissive, uninvolved, and authoritative. Parenting styles are determined by the balance of support you give and expectations you have for your kids - or the balance between how responsive and demanding you are. Research shows that kids who are parented in an authoritative way are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol use, report less depression and anxiety, do better in school, and score better on measures of self-esteem.
But how do we get there? What does "authoritative" parenting look like in my individual situation?
Read more in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.
JACKSON HOLE NEWS & GUIDE: In my last column I talked about the simplicity of being present with our kids. Simple, yet not so simple.
Simple when there is ease in the situation and our interaction. Simple when we are having fun together, sharing an activity or cooperating on responsibilities.
Not so simple when there is a power struggle, whining, talking back, not doing what we ask, dilly-dallying, or any other hair-raising behavior from our child. So what do we do in those times when it is not so simple?
Many of the problems we have in our parenting lives involve what we might call “discipline issues,” in which we feel we need to correct or change our children’s “bad” or challenging behavior. When I ask parents in my classes what they think of when we talk about discipline, the two most popular responses are timeouts and punishment, but the root of the word means to teach.
Read more in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.
JACKSON HOLE NEWS & GUIDE: I have a folder in my computer files titled “What kids need.”
In it I file articles and research papers that talk about children’s outcomes given certain experiences. Along with the linear part of my brain that so wants a formula for parenting, some day I might dig through and synthesize those files to create the “Manifesto on Parenting.”
Obviously I haven’t quite let go of my desire for a formula, despite my Oct. 10 column, “There is no formula you can use to parent.”... Read more here.
Rachel Wigglesworth has an M.Ed. in Parent and Family Education and is excited to explore the world of raising children with you!