“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
In 2009 I was waking in the night because of worry. I was often angry. I was not close to my kids anymore. I knew I had to change. So, during the middle of the night I wrote myself advice which became my book, HOW TO BE A ZEN MAMA.
Looking back, I know that I was not the only parent going through these issues and that mine weren’t even that bad compared to other teenage problems. In that spirit, I’ve invited some blogging friends to share their teenage thoughts this month.
In chapter nine of my book, “Let Them Experience Life”, I wrote about how children must discover mistakes on their own. We parents are here to listen. You will want to save them from having the same bad experiences that you have had. But children need to make mistakes because this shapes them into the person they will become. It’s how children gain confidence.
My first guest post is from Missy at Literal Mom. Her oldest is now a tween. She’s stuggling how to best prepare herself and her tween for the teenage issues that are on their way:
Sometimes I struggle, immensely, with changing my parenting skills and approach as my children grow.
A couple of weeks ago I listened to a speaker on the topic of “Building Your Child’s Self-Esteem.” And he said what I expected him to say. Namely, that self-esteem doesn’t come from being praised. Self-esteem comes from within. And actually, the more you praise your child with the syrupy sweet praise our current generation’s come to know and use, the less your child will believe you. And the less self-esteem they’ll have.
And I get all that. What he also talked about, though, is something where my struggle comes. And it’s this: Children do not want our parental advice. All they want is for us to listen to them without any other distractions. He said that 20 minutes of totally focused time with your child, listening, is better than 2 hours of half-baked listening, where you’re doing 5 other things at the same time you’re “kind of listening.” And that listening, without solving their problems for them, is the biggest key to building self-esteem in a child. For life.
And I’m struggling with that!
You know why?
Because I think it’s probably, totally, dead-on true. So I imagine it’s not the message I’m struggling with. It’s my application of the message.
It’s one thing to allow your toddler to struggle with a block tower, a preschooler to struggle with a zipper, a Kindergartner to struggle with a book. It’s quite another to allow your older children to struggle with things like bullying, friendship issues, whether to cheat on a test, lying, etc.
But this time is so important for them to try, and fail, on their own. (Except for the whole bullying issue, which is a little different than normal growing pains, I believe.)
When my Oldest daughter, a tween, gets in the car after school she often spends 30 minutes or more sharing all of the“wrongs” she’s suffered through the day. I’m so happy she does this.
But I so want to jump in and say, “well next time do this,” or “why didn’t you do it this way?” And I know that’s not the right approach. I know she’s venting and not looking for answers. Sometimes, even when she asks my advice, she doesn’t want the answer. I can tell by how she disengages when I start to talk.
It’s hard to rely on the other ways I think/hope/pray we’re teaching her how to be a good person, and not jump in and give her an “answer” to a problem on any given day.
But I’m trying. Because I want to be a Zen Mama when I grow up. Am I the only one who struggles with this? Are there others of you out there, I hope, who share this feeling?
Missy writes the blog, The Literal Mom. The Literal Mom, founded in March 2011, encourages us all to become thinking parents. Missy believes that, “It’s when we put ourselves on auto-pilot and just coast through parenting (and life in general) that things can go awry. The more of us who really think about parenting, the better parents we will become. And the better parents we become, the better kids we will raise. And the better kids we raise, the better the next generation will be.”