Hey Dad, want a quick test of your parenting bond/attachment with your children?
Let’s say your child/teen has made a bad choice, broken something, done something stupid etc… which way are they running? To you or away from you?
Are they running away from you? Running away because you will only make the problem worse with punishment? Do they run away and hide because to avoid your judgment, yelling, scolding, humiliating words? “How could you be so stupid” or the double barreled doozy “I am very disappointed in you” (wow, that is a killer – FYI — AVOID ‘disappointed’ at ALL COSTS!!!) If they are running away, perhaps its time to open up the “dad” schematics and figure out where the love train went off the rails. Why don’t they feel safe coming to you for help?
OR Is your child is running TO you because you are a great source of comfort? A fountain of “non-judgmental comfort?” Are they running to you because you are solution focused (discipline) and will help them find a solution to whatever pickle they are in?
My daughter just turned 4 – when she is scared or unsure, she runs to me. I comfort and soothe. That’s it. NO lecture or talk. For me, the real kicker to ponder is when she is 16 and is scared or unsure, or will I still be there to JUST comfort and soothe (no lecture)? When she calls home for a ride away from a drunken teenage party, what will Mr. Smart Guy do then? Gosh, I pray for the strength to do the right thing. If there is a well-worn path of communication firmly in place and she still does run to me – I’d better not blow it!! I will have to fight the urge to really say I might really feel and remember, that this is my little girl – and the relationship I have with her is the most important thing in the world. After all, how she feels about herself is largely based on what SHE thinks I feel about her.
You and I must begin building and blazing this well-worn path RIGHT NOW! It is NEVER too late! For myself, I must lay a solid foundation of communication and attachment – building the house day-by-day and brick-by-brick so that when the storms come, (and they will) the house is strong enough to endure. You can’t fast track this fundamental. The Disneyland parents (who want to BUY their way into their children’s hearts) will never succeed – this battle is WON in the trenches. These are hills I AM willing to die on…
We, as parents, are the beacon for our children — if the attachment is strong and the house is solid, we can help our children weather any storm, we are their best defense. However, if the attachment is not strong enough – they will find their bearings in their peer group. Parents may feel a sense of helplessness as their child’s peer group exerts more force, persuasion, and comfort. Read Gordon Neufeld’s book “Hang on to your Kids!” if you want to scare the pants off yourself.
It is never too late to resume building that solid house of communication. Baby steps – think about how you handle the bad decisions your children make… proactively or reactively? One false move or worse, one reactionary negative blurted sentence can do major damage that may take years to repair. What is the outcome you seek? Can you turn judgment into curiosity?
Ask yourself, will my words and actions strengthen our bond or hurt it? Choose wisely…
Since dads always know best, you must master the art of biting your tongue, swallowing the “I TOLD YOU SO!” and just hugging and soothing and talking about next time – the lesson learned. I guarantee better results with that approach or your money back… wait a second —
Please post your thoughts, ideas, and comments — which way are YOUR kids running?
Until next time!