*Note: In this podcast I mention a social psychologist whom I couldn't remember. I realized that I was actually thinking of the work of Carol Dweck, but it wasn't actually her research I was referring to.
Recently I've been thinking a lot about a certain topic in parenting. And the topic revolves around how often we as parents use the "I am the parent" card in various forms or fashions. Sometimes we literally say that out loud, and other times we are just thinking it. You may have your own version, but I hear something to this effect quite a bit in my counseling sessions with parents and their adolescents.
And when I hear this statement (or some version of it) coming from a parent and said to their kid, what I essentially hear is, "What you have to say, think, believe, etc, doesn't matter." It basically cuts off any form of understanding or connection in that relationship, and I believe will eventually lead a kid to disrespect and rebel from their parents authority. Nothing communicates a lack of worth more quickly than basically not listening to those we are in relationship with.
I've been thinking about this a lot because on several occasions I've seen parents do a great job of really seeking to understand their kids in session...and it changes everything. Literally. One of the reasons I'm able to do it in session so easily with adolescents is because I'm not their parent, and the emotional connection is very different, and not highly charged. But with my own kids, I often find myself not taking the time to slow down and listen to what they have to say.
Listening to our kids is so important, and though there are times to make decisions as a parent and want follow through without any type of pushing back from them, there is also a really healthy exchange that takes place when kids ask and demand that we as parents give them answers. This is especially true the older the kid gets. And I think we actually do them a disservice when we just excuse their questioning, and we end up not really preparing them for the future. We need to help our kids understand why we make the decisions we make so they have a compass by which to make their own decisions. We need to show them that understanding and empathy and connection are important. In this episode:
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I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Plano, Texas. I work with individuals, couples, and families regarding a number of issues from marriage therapy, anxiety, depression, infidelity, faith, relationship strengthening, and a whole lot more. If you are interested in scheduling a session with me, or having me out to speak, please contact us via email or phone (469-304-9022).