Parenting Series 3: Emotional Parenting

Emotional parenting includes but isn’t limited to hearing, listening and processing what your child is saying. Our children will not always be able to process nor articulate what’s concerning them so it is our job it help them do it. This isn’t an easy task because it requires tremendous patience, compassion and being present to hear what’s not being said.

I find this to be particularly challenging with parents of teenagers. It’s really very easy to be very annoyed with a teen. We shut them down because we perceive them as rude, lazy and out of order. However, our teens will go as far as we allow them to. It’s their job to push back and rebel but it’s up to us to stand our ground, enforce the rules of the house and deliver consequences when these rules aren’t followed. There has to be ground rules that are created AND followed by everyone in the house consistently. There can be no exception to rules because we as parents just didn’t have the energy to enforce them today. It’s critical to be consistent with what you say through your actions. Our teenagers are definitely watching more than they are listening.

Chores is one topic but there are things that go beyond day to day rules. Things that may be hard to discuss with your teens but are necessary. These things include sex, drugs, and alcohol. I cannot STRESS how important it is to be extremely honest, open, COMPASSIONATE and open to listening when it comes to these topics. Our children can be one way at home but online, at school, or with their friends they can be carrying on an entirely different persona. It’s important that we keep a judgement free dialogue open with our children and answer all of their questions no matter how much it makes you squirm or feel uncomfortable. I recall asking some aunts about sex and it was met with such criticism and animosity, that I just never even bothered talking to any adults about it again. Parents be mindful of your past, your actions, your wildness and be sure to let your children know why you know about the perils of certain behaviors. We all see and know someone or a few someone's who may have fallen off the straight and narrow because they got too caught up in life too fast. Listen more, talk less and when you do talk, make sure you are speaking in a relatable way and not just lecturing them or acting like they are brainless. They are more brilliant than you think, treat them with dignity and respect when answering questions.

Emotional parenting is allowing yourself to be with your disappointment, anger or even resent when your child completely pisses you off. Be with yourself and process your own feelings first. See how your anger could be a manifestation of something from your past vs what’s actually happening with your kid now. Allow yourself to really sort out your stuff before you just lash out at your child. Deal with your fury first before addressing your child. People make mistakes and mistakes are a part of life. Do not have them be people who are scared to make mistakes or scared to address their mistakes for fear of beatings, verbal abuse or some kind of withholding of affection. None of those things should be consequences for making mistakes. When our children blunder, it’s on us to find out why, how we can help and how to rectify the situation. Our job is not to make them feel worse about the situation. We are there to be their guides and to also see the consequences of their actions from a moral, emotional and spiritual standpoint. We are there to empower them to be stronger from their mistakes and not to cower because they fear our retaliation.

It takes a lot of work to be self composed when you’re angry. But I think it helps to know that your child will become a much more compassionate, loving, whole and complete adult as a result of your composure and compassion. We are all human and by no means do I think anyone in the world can be composed all the time. My suggestion is that you work at it very very hard in all aspects of your life. We aren’t here to punish, judge and demean the people who we gave birth to. We are here to encourage, love, parent and provide them with a moral compass that enriches their lives and the lives of other human beings. Remember, it is an honor to be a parent. It’s a gift. What will you do with this gift that you are given? Do you best, and then do even better because the life you created is watching.

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