Hi, Im Vicki Hoefle, author of the new book, The Straight Talk on Parenting: A No Nonsense Approach on How to Grow a Grownup. This post is designed to introduce some of the concepts I talk about in the new book.
My aha moment as a mother came when I realized that parenting wasnt about what happened when my kids were between the ages of 0 and 18 - it was about what happened for my kids between the ages of 18 and 80.
At that moment, I let out an audible sigh of relief and gave up any notion I had that if I parented perfectly, I would raise a perfectly behaved 3, 7 11, or 15 year old. Instead, I set my eye on a bigger prize. Raising an emotionally healthy, well adjusted, confident adult who had the skills necessary to live a rich and satisfying life.
The very idea that you are living with a toddler and raising an adult at the same time can be a bit daunting. I know it left me feeling completely ill equipped to parent from both perspectives the here-and-now which might include a morning meltdown from my 2nd grader and raising a competent, thoughtful 23 year old who could navigate her morning with ease and confidence.
How, I thought, am I ever going to do this? The truth is, it took me a few years to find the sweet spot I was looking for. When I did, parenting became a whole lot more joyful and a whole lot LESS stressful. Over the years I developed a few solid strategies to keep me parenting from my best in high stress moments with kids of all ages and still keep my eye on the fact that I was responsible for growing a grownup.
The first and most important step I took towards reconciling this dilemma came in the form of a Parenting Philosophy. A Parenting Philosophy I developed to guide my parenting decisions so I could do two things at once:
- Be an effective mother in the here and now with my young kids
- And be just as effective in preparing my kids for life beyond my threshold.
Beyond that, I developed what I call a Relationship Blueprint that helped me keep the relationship with my wee ones healthy and strong and also served to teach my kids how to identify both healthy and unhealthy relationships so they could surround themselves with the kinds of people that would bring them joy and fulfillment as adults.
I found ways to foster my childrens independence, which meant I had kids who helped out with the daily running of the house and were able to manage their own lives. I didnt spend a lot of time nagging and reminding them to pick up or remember their gear. Because of all this practice, I felt confident that they would have the skills necessary to navigate their world when they forged out on their own.
I employed a strategy for living through Red Zone Moments with kids that kept us all feeling connected, respected and on the same page and combined that with a strategy for developing character traits in my kids that would not only serve them well as adults, but minimized some of the pesky behavior we witness in your growing kids. A character trait like Self-Control, which we all need to employ as adults, but that also helps young kids learn to walk away from an annoying sibling instead of lashing out and chucking a block across the room. Its a win-win for everyone.
And finally, I instituted routines that took into account the unique nature of my kids. For instance, I have one child who is a night owl and would wake up in the morning 10 minutes before the bus arrived, slide down the banister, grab a banana or a half eaten piece of his brothers toast and sprint to the car with a smile on his face and I had a morning lark who was up at 5:00 am doing her homework, enjoying a cup of tea, reading the paper and thoroughly enjoying this slow paced morning ritual.
My goal leave the house at 7:30 with all 5 of my kids buckled in. And you know what, over the course of 18 years, we had a whole lot more successes than failures.
Growing a grownup can be an exciting and fulfilling adventure for any parent. All it takes is a bit of thought, a few well designed strategies and the fortitude to stay the course when the going gets tough.