How to Become an Empowering Parent

animal-avian-bird-3114473Our goal as parents should be to raise well-prepared, self-confident future adults who are ready to fulfill their dreams and purpose. Our goal should not be for them to “stick around” as long as possible, to control as much of their lives as we can, or to be their best friend. No, in order to be a parent who empowers, our parenting philosophy and approach need to be aligned accordingly

Of course, it sounds easy to be a purposeful and intentional parent, always keeping our goals in mind. However, it’s more challenging than it sounds! With our busy lives (jobs, activities, travel, friends, kids’ schedules) and constant laundry list of daily to-dos, we are pulled in many different directions. The long and short of it is this: once our teens mature, it’s time to say “goodbye” to a control-oriented approach and “hello” to coaching and empowering. This means giving incremental freedom as our children demonstrate maturity, responsibility, and integrity.

This is one of the greatest gifts we can give them—our belief in them.

So, how do we actually DO empowered parenting?

There are several pillars that we recommend you make a part of your parenting approach, but today we will focus on your parenting philosophy. Philosophically, it all starts with adopting an empowering mindset. Embrace that you are no longer raising a child, but an adult you want to see reach his or her potential. This shift makes a huge difference! Here’s how to get started:

  1. Establish strategic parenting goals. Productive people are goal setters, and this applies to parenting, too. Develop goals and values to guide your children and create your family’s “brand.” This makes a great team-building project to do with your children and can help you better understand each other as you grow together and look forward to the future.
  2. Don’t forget that you’re their parent, not their friend. When our children are little, there’s a maturitychasmbetween us, and it’s easier to feel like the one in charge. However, that gap narrows in the tween years and even more so when they’re adults. When this gap shrinks (and concurrently, when our teens exert more independence and pushback), many parents mistakenly move into a friend role. In their mind, it will help keep the peace and their teen happy. However, this can lead to chaos and disrespect, and your teen can miss out on important life lessons.
  3. Remember, it’s their This may seem to contradict the pointer above, but when held in healthy tension, it actually doesn’t! The difference is the driving philosophy that raising self-confident children is about them, not about us. It’s about helping them understand their potential and chase after their own dreams. We must not impose our own desires, as it will deprive them of the freedom they need to soar. To do otherwise will breed resentment in the adult years that is difficult to overcome.
  4. Teach for independence. Often, parents fall into the trap of doing things for their children because it’s easier, takes less time, gives them a better outcome, etc. However, in order to empower, make sure that instead of doing it for them, you show them how to do it. After all, the acid test of parenting is whether your children can do something well without your help or reminders. This is a vital step in developing the life skills they will need to master as they enter adulthood.

With these pointers applied to your parenting philosophy, we are confident that all parents can position their family for a successful launch. By being intentional and purposeful, we can empower our teens and give them the wings—not strings—they need to soar.

For more information on empowering parenting, we invite you to check out our new book, Wings Not Strings.

 

Bullying Part 3: Empowering Students to BE the Solution

The last two weeks we’ve talked about ways to deal with (and hopefully eradicate) bullying. First, we talked about IDENTIFYING the root problem. Next, we talked about ADDRESSING the heart issue.

This week, we’re talking about EMPOWERING students to be the solution.
 
One of our readers—an Idaho teacher using our What I Wish I Knew at 18 curriculum—responded to our bullying blogs with the following: When students buy into the (idea) that everyone is unique and special, they won’t allow others to intimidate their peers. You will hear in (our) halls, ‘We don’t do this at our school.’ … Our school isn’t perfect but the students take an active role in the process.”

 
Way to go! That’s exactly our next point: Mainstreaming integrity, compassion, and respect (i.e., making them a vital component of school culture) is a key way to counteract bullying!
 
Bullies prefer physical isolation to perpetrate their unkind acts to avoid getting caught by authorities or loyal classmates. That’s why the best solutions bring bullying “into the light.” Schools that make addressing the bullying issue PART OF THEIR SCHOOL CULTURE experience a quicker turn-around than those who simply address the issue on a one-off basis, behind closed doors.
 
When it comes to bullying, positive peer pressure is the best solution of all! That’s because a strong school culture fosters a healthy learning environment for all in a preventive, rather than reactive, manner.
                                                                                                               
In What I Wish I Knew at 18, I share about the character qualities and social values that empower young people to treat others with dignity, avoid destructive relationships, and be catalysts for change in their schools and communities. Some of these tips include:

These are important values we ALL need to cultivate in our lives, no matter how old we are! And, when we train young people to model them, we offer useful, lifelong tools to create a positive culture in the world around them.
 
We invite you to explore how our What I Wish I Knew at 18 resources can help your school, organization, and family instill a positive and inspired community culture.
 
How do you empower the young people in your life to treat others with dignity and steer clear of destructive relationships? (insert link) We hope you’ll pass this link (and the rest of our bullying series) on to a friend or colleague. And then, share a comment below; we’d be glad to hear your reports and suggestions!