When it comes to parenting we are all learning on the job as well as taking from what we were taught years ago by our own parents. Some questions that we tend to ask are not effective and or helpful in obtaining the end result we are seeking. In asking a different set of questions we can begin to open up the doors of discovery that will help our children and even ourselves find a way back to connecting with the inner voice we all have.
“How am I affecting the situation?”
A lot of times we like to ask questions to find out what is wrong rather than seeking to find out what is working or how can we celebrate what went well that day. When tensions are building sometimes it helps to focus on the positive in order to change the energy in the situation. Small children don’t always have the vocabulary to express their inner voice. Asking them, “Why did you do that? or Why aren’t you listening?”, serves to affect the energy in a negative way and often contributes to the disconnection between parent and child. In our desire to be the right and good parent, we sometimes forget that what we are really trying to do is connect and even moreso guide the child to be able to connect with themselves.
Spend time listening and observing
A lot of times we ask the why, what, and how come kinds of questions simply because we are trying to figure out the parts. When really, communication has more to do with how we are flowing and discovering together. Just a quick example…I am not an alert right off the bat morning kind of person. Instead, I like to wander a little bit, brush my teeth, have something to drink and then get ready. When my kids were small and they would be all over the place first thing, I would say, “I’m not awake yet. Please give me a few minutes.” Now years later when my son who works graveyard gets up later in the day and I having been up all day go into chatter mode, you will hear him say to me much like I did to him years ago, “Mom, I am not awake yet.” This signal that lets each of us know where the other is was developed over time. Sometimes you discover how each other operates by not asking the psychological questions but instead by not assuming to know where the other person is coming. Rather spend time listening and observing what the other is saying or doing in order to draw your conclusion in the situation.
“Give them the ability to discover what it is they truly want.”
This can be practiced in situations with even the smallest of children. Let’s say you were building blocks with your child and all of a sudden they kick over the tower and that was not your next step in the plan. It is easy to get upset and say, “Well why did you ruin the fun?”. Instead, we need to try a discovery style question such as, “Oh you knocked them all over. What part of that was fun for you?” or “Are you done now?”. By asking these types of questions we are giving them the ability to discover what it is they truly want. It becomes less about being right or wrong and more about connecting with their inner voice.
The same response also works well when interacting with teenagers. We often tend to ask them questions that apply pressure such as; “Did you do your homework?” or “Are you ready for that test?”. When we should be asking things that will help them to begin to think, feel and examine their reasons and actions in a more reflective type of way. Try to ask questions like, “Do you trust you know your material? Or “What do you think is going to happen tomorrow if you don’t study today?” and you will find them to be a more effective approach.
Step 2 – Learning –
“Are we able to let our child make mistakes?”
As parents, our automatic instinct is to protect our children. We do it without thinking when we realize they are headed directly for a brick wall. Of course, this is alright when it comes to things that are about safety. Although within reasonable boundaries even then we should sometimes step back and allow them to make the mistake so they can learn from it. Instead of always jumping into protection mode, we need to start asking ourselves; are we able to let our child make mistakes? Are we as the parents willing to make some when parenting and not beat ourselves up over them when we do.
Parenting can get overwhelming when we place the need for perfection on both us and our kids. We have to realize that although they can be challenging, our children are still good people. Above that, they are simply human and come with the occasional flaw just as we do.
What kind of pressures are we putting on our kids? Are we allowing them to make their own mistakes, even if the cost affects us? Meaning if they mess up at school and are suspended, can we stay home during their suspended time? Can we change the focus from, “When are you going to learn?”, to “Now you are home and bored, what are you going to do about it?” Giving the child a little more leeway to start thinking for themselves will help them to connect within and hear their own inner voices. The learning curve in those moments is extremely empowering. One of the most valuable lessons we can give our children and even ourselves is the discovery of “Personal Authority”. Connecting to the wisdom within that says, “What do I know here? or What is really trying to emerge?” By asking reflective questions you allow them to be more observant in their own way and help them build a dialogue with their inner voice.
“Have we taken the time to reflect?”
Parenting is a long process. Once you’re a parent, you’re never not a parent again. Those first parenting efforts are ones you want to do well. You want everything to be right and true. The fact is that there are challenging people in the world, some of which live in our homes. That does not make them right or wrong but instead provides a learning curve that takes time to discover. Sometimes it is easy to forget that some things will take more time to learn. In a household where there can be fighting and drama, survival energy comes into play. It is the type of energy that wants an immediate response without leaving time for a lot of reflection.
When somebody is constantly flaring up or there are repeated problems in a home it is easy to feel that the situation is urgent. In those moments it is important to realize that the drama itself is a distraction. It will keep you in survival mode, leaving you no time for reflection and discovery. We need to stop and make the time. Even when we find ourselves screaming or our child is screaming, we can go into that reflective line of questioning. Go to a place in your head where you check in; “This is not what I want to be doing. How do I get out of this mode?”. Without the reflection and discovery, you end up telling yourself that you are a failure and screwing up. Which only adds to the pressure and stress that created the urgency in the first place.
Thriving is not instant it takes time.
Being out of control is a part of the waves of emotions learning curve. If there aren’t any waves in the house, then there probably isn’t any energy flowing. Some people are much more emotive than others. While others are more talkative. Even still some people are busier than others. There is a sort of momentum in each of these types. To help diffuse the emotional waves we need to pause. Pausing can look a multitude of ways. For instance, it could be as simple as taking a deep breath. It may be that you adjust your body to a different angle. Changing a confrontational posture even slightly moves the energy and allows you to reclaim that time for quick reflection. In general, with children, if you take that breath, if you shift your posture, it actually creates time to start listening to yourself again, to start even that little hint of reflective observation, and you start to move into the ability to thrive. Thriving is not instant it takes time. Without taking the time – when things are heated, frustrated and confusing we feel all the static and the messages will not get through from one side to the other.
Part of the learning curve is to remember how to enjoy each other. Learn to celebrate the small things. Sometimes the smallest gesture or touch is what actually reconnects you to the love that you share. In the midst of all the parenting, we need to reflect and remember that we love our kids and they, in fact, love us.
“You don’t have to be perfect!”
Parenting is one of the biggest things you will ever do in your life. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to feel guilty for the mistakes that were made. What you need to be is willing to take the time to learn, to take the time to reconnect with yourself. Your willingness to invest in your parenting and life long journey with your family is the important piece to getting started on making those changes.
I would love to invite you to check out my gift to you, which is a free 30-minute conversation with me. We are not going to fix everything all at once in 30 minutes. Rather we can begin to establish what it is you need and how I can best support you. You can expect safety and confidentiality from your time with me. Get the wind back in your sails again by reconnecting with your inner self and that of your child.