Anyone with kids can attest to the fact that not every day is a walk in the park. Hopefully you’re one of the lucky ones and have more easy parenting days than hard ones, but in reality, parenting is one of the most difficult challenges a person can face. That’s because it’s work…really hard work.
PlumbTalk Women wanted to discuss parenting in today’s chaotic world so we called a top-notch expert in the subject, licensed psychotherapist Fran Sherman. Fran has seen it all in her 27 years of practicing in Florida, New York and elsewhere. When Fran is not counseling patients or speaking at seminars, she can be spotted on TV, offering commentary on the relevant topics of today.
We got right into the differences of parenting today versus 30 years ago. The good news is that communication is better today. Parents are more willing to talk with their children about myriad issues. However, we’ve developed bad patterns in a world filled with violence, negativity and, gasp…technology!
In some ways, we’ve overcompensated for the gloominess by replacing it with false happiness. We’ve tried so hard to shield our kids from reality that we haven’t actually taught them about failure. We tell them they’re the brightest, the prettiest, the most athletic little person in school because we want to empower them and fill up their little ego balloons. But guess what? That’s not doing anyone any favors.
In real life, people face failure and disappointment. No one ever gets everything they want, so why should we allow our children to have a distorted view of the world? Fran says,
“Kids need to learn failure and disappointment, otherwise they’re never gonna know how to succeed.”
She adds that positive reinforcement is fine, but don’t overdo it. Not everyone should get a ribbon just for finishing. That sort of “reward” can backfire.
When talking about cell phones, Fran said kids will come into sessions with their parents and all they’ll do is look at their phone. “That means there is no session,” she says.
Picking up the phone and talking to another human being may seem like something only Fred Flintstone did, but it really wasn’t that long ago when people actually interacted in this fashion. It’s funny that parents are still yelling at their kids to get off the phone, but the meaning has changed. We were engaged in a real human connection. Now, the only connection is to a tower.
Fran sees potential problems arising from this lack of face-to-face time. People will have less empathy for one another. Humanity will suffer because no one will know how to act in real social situations. Parents can mitigate this by having one night a week where no cell phones are allowed. That goes for mom and dad, too, because parents can be just as guilty. Take them out for dinner, and leave the electronic devices at home. Talk to one another, look at each other and listen.
One of the things Fran sees most in her practice is a parent who lets their kid run all over them. “You have to take the reigns and let them know you’re in control, and they will respect you for that.” Many times, kids feel the most hurt when parents don’t try to discipline them because they feel as if mom or dad doesn’t care.
Never ignore your kids or give them the silent treatment. There are times when they make you mad, but tell them you’re mad at their behavior not at them. They are still a good person, but what they did wasn’t so good. And if they do continue to misbehave, they must be taught that there will be consequences. Don’t be afraid to take away their privileges. Two other things to never do: don’t say “yes” all the time, and don’t embarrass them in public. These can have damaging, long-lasting affects.
Remaining upbeat is so important because your kids will take their cues from you. If you are always sour, what do you think will happen to their outlook?
Kids growing up today need structure. They need to know what their limits are, so firmly set them, and tell them if they’ve gone past them. Keep it consistent, too!
Good parenting boils down to working hard. You have to put in the time to talk to your children, no matter how tired you are. Talk to your kids honestly, and always keep communication lines open. This will establish trust, that sometimes-elusive condition.
If you feel like you’re having a difficult time, seek help from a family therapist. “This doesn’t make you a bad parent,” emphasizes Fran. “It makes you a good parent.”
Visit Fran’s website to contact her: http://www.asktherapistfran.com/Home_Page.html