experience? Your child does some bad thing, in public or in front
of relatives of course, and someone gives you the “evil eye” and says
“Aren’t you going to do something about that? Are you going to just
let her/him get away with it?!”
Aside from the judging,
unhelpful nature of the comment, what’s interesting about that to me is
that it highlights what I call an “old paradigm” of parenting. The
best way to shape a child’s behavior doesn’t happen after they’ve done
something WRONG–it happens before & after they do something RIGHT.
We the parents truly need to plan ahead, identify the positive
behaviors we want to see more of, and work consistently to support, recognize
& reward our kids when they show us THOSE behaviors–not the bad
The ideas above, although not new, are newly presented
in my current favorite parenting book. At this point it would make
sense to tell you the name of the book, but I’m not, because I think
the book title is misleading. It should have been named “Parenting
101” or “What Every Parent Needs to Know About Shaping Behavior”, or “What
Science Tells Us about Parenting” (since the book’s methods are proven
to work, based on results from many, many different studies by many
different professional researchers.)
But alas, they didn’t ask
my opinion about the name, so I’ve just had to make up my own:
“Behavior 201 for Parents”. Anyway, I’m currently leading a book group
on it, and plan to start another one in April. If you’re
interested in joining the book group, stay tuned, I’ll send out more
(PS. Follow the link if you want more info on the book, or to know its real title.) ;^)
Who has time to read an entire parenting book these days? It’s amazing how much time & energy it takes to chew through a 350 page epic on how you “should” parent. Even the really good books are tough to get through. It’s made me particularly appreciative of brevity, so to that end here are just 3 thoughts/comments that I frequently say in my role as a parent coach & therapist. It’s a little like a 15 minute parent coaching session, or a super, super condensed parenting book. ;^)
- It’s our job as parents to help prepare our kids for the real world. We parents typically want to protect our kids from the evils and heartbreaks that exist out there. That’s normal and healthy and generally encouraged. But. Our other very important job is to help our children acquire the skills, habits, resources, and strength to be able to handle the problems of the world on their own. We can’t protect them forever, so we’d better equip them. Start now.
- Kids intuitively know that they are half-mom and half-dad. When kids hear/see/perceive criticism from one parent to another, they internalize it and file it away under “things about MYSELF that
aren’t good.” While I say this one more to parents who are divorcing, it’s also true for married parents. Every couple has conflict (it’s healthy, actually) but the way we handle that conflict is
- The single best way to get your kid to change is to let them see you changing. I say this one so often that I joke I’m going to embroider it on a pillow one day. But it speaks to the power of
role modeling, the power of acknowledging that-even though we’re the parent-we’re still not perfect, and it also sends the message that in your family’s home-everyone is committed to growing. Such a powerful and positive message!
I love to recommend books to parents, because there is SO much good information available. Not to mention that books are such a bargain for what you get! I encourage every divorcing parent I work with to purchase books on divorce for their kids, and to read one for themselves, too. (BTW, if you’re looking for book recommendations on divorce for kids, go here.)
My only complaint is that this book nearly 400 pages–with small print! But some things are worth carving out time to read, and this book is one of those things. All questions are answered inside those covers–from Parenting Plans to the power of language, to managing emotions and healing wounds to the new “Businesslike relationship, and troubleshooting problems. Read it cover to cover and then refer back to it when things come up.
“Joint Custody with a Jerk” wins the prize for best book title of all time. In fact, I originally purchased this book solely because of the title, and I bet I’m not the first. But there’s good stuff beyond the cover, too. For example, I like that this book starts by encouraging the reader to examine their own feelings, and identifying a problem other than ‘my ex is a jerk.’ This is the absolute perfect place to start, and a method I use with families myself. They teach a concept they call the “problem pyramid,” and encourage parents to ask themselves 1: what exactly is the problem, 2, who has upset feelings about the issue, 3, who brought up the issue, and 4, who is responsible for the solution? By working through those questions, the authors say that parents will have a healthy, effective guide as to how they should respond–to the jerky ex, their kids, or in any other relationship where conflicts arise.
If you get through those 700+ pages of parenting advice in those 2 books, and still want more: email me. I’ll see what else I can dig up. ;^)