It always surprises me when people stop and compliment how well behaved and respectful my children are as if it’s some kind of anomaly.
Most of the time it’s followed up with snide comments about how parents these days try to hard to be their kid’s friends instead of their parent. The truth is, I am their friend, but I am also their parent.
Yes, I consider myself one of those new age parents, but I find that when most people make these types of comments, that means they are just sorely out of touch with the reality that there is such a thing as balance. You don’t have to run your children under authoritarian rule, nor do you have to subscribe to the “children should be seen and not heard” theory in order to raise respectful children, who know how to act when out in public.
You’re their friend? So basically you are saying you let your children do what they want.
No. I do not allow that to happen either.
We have all heard of the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. In our house we don’t just talk the talk. We practice it with EVERYONE, the kids included.
I want to preface the rest of this by saying that it’s not always easy. They aren’t perfect and neither are we as parents. But the key for us is being able to extend grace to them and remind them of our expectations as parents. However, it is possible to change their thought process as well as yours as parents by committing to wanting a positive change not only for yourself but for your kids as well.
Make them feel visible
I have always, always hated the saying “children should be seen and not heard.” Ever since I was a kid, it was a statement that drove me up a wall. More than likely it’s because my mother always hated that statement as well, and she always taught us how to act in public, and when we messed up, she didn’t fuss, she just reminded us that certain behaviors were expected.
Steer clear from evaluation.
We always try our hardest to speak love & light (yes it sounds hippie-ish) into our kids. Instead of focusing on process try describing the effort they are making. It can be something as simple as “I love how hard you have been working to finish reading that book!” which is much more motivating than, “What a good reader you are!”
Likewise, if I know they aren’t good at something (even they can recognize that they aren’t that great) and it needs more work I may say something like “When you look at your handwriting how does it make you feel?” If they recognize that it could use more improvement we talk about ways that I could support them in doing so.
Give your child the credit & show them grace
They have it hard. As adults we seem to forget this the older we become. They are still learning how to navigate life, and we have to ACCEPT that they won’t always get it right. But when they do, let’s make sure they know! Likewise, this means not beating them up when they get it wrong. We can tell them in the kindest way possible that it’s important to make better decisions, or that there will be consequences for their actions, but let’s be honest, some parents take it entirely too far.
In short. Treating them with as much respect as possible and showing them the much needed grace that they not only deserve but are entitled to. This in turn will let them know that we have their backs, and that the same love and grace we show them should be extended back to us.
Your mindest matters
Do you ever hear parents who constantly refer to their kids as their “broke best friends” or little freeloaders?
Yeah…..that’s a no.
Even if it is in jest, kids do take things to heart. Would you ever want to be the cause of your kids having any type of self-doubt? Of course not. But if you have the opportunity to have a positive mindset and speak to your kids in a positive manner, why not take it. Sometimes a little bit goes a long way.
Love of impromptu dance parties, 80’s cartoons, and horizontal life pauses (aka naps); Natasha Brown is a stay at home mom of 4 kids, and wife to one lucky guy! In her spare time, she is co-editor of Grits & Grace, as well as editor for The Mother Hustler Blog and Creative Director for the Mother Hustler podcast.