What a challenging time to be a parent! Many parents are still working from home and taking on a lot of teaching and supervising their children in remote learning settings. Or they’re navigating what it looks like to send their children back to school–and all the stressors that go along with that.
At LEADPrep, even though we safely continued in-person learning throughout the pandemic, we know how much kids struggled without the regular social interaction they’re used to. And we know that not every extracurricular activity has continued this fall. These challenges have parents worried and stressed.
Kids pick up on that stress and may choose to act out or push boundaries more than usual. This can start families on a hamster wheel of stress, arguments, push-back, hurt feelings and more. In light of everything going on this year, we knew that we wanted to help parents have a few more tools in their kit to navigate this crazy time.
In the midst of the pandemic we invited Robin Dowdy, a parent educator and coach, to come and spend a virtual evening sharing highlights of the parenting with love and logic philosophy developed by Donna Wood, Jim Fay, and Pastor Kline. Robin is a parent, high school teacher, and has trained many parents over the years. It’s just as relevant now as it was then.
What is Love and Logic in Parenting?
We all want our kids to be able to make sound decisions and take responsibility for their lives. After all, our job is to grow responsible young adults and launch them into the world. But how do we get there? Robin described three kinds of parenting: helicopter, sergeant, and consultant. After laughingly giving examples of how she has been all three, she honed in on the consultant model.
(You can imagine why she didn’t focus on the helicopter or sergeant models!)
How to Be a Consultant Parent
As a consultant parent, you make yourself available to actively listen to your teen, offering options and suggestions–not directing orders or following them around to ensure they do the “right” thing, whatever that is. It allows you to be a sounding board as your child talks through how they might resolve an issue while maintaining ownership of the situation.
- Provide stated and unstated messages of trust and unconditional love
- Offer messages of “I value you” and “I know you’re capable”
- Model their own health self-concept
Robin coached those in attendance to begin with empathy when our children make mistakes. She had us practice prompts we could use to help our children come up with solutions. She often gave choices like, do you want to clean the bathroom before you have your snack or after?
Use of Logical Consequences
Parents, especially parents of teens, often struggle with appropriate consequences for our kids not making good choices or intentionally acting out. While we want to react, and it’s how we learned how to parent from our own parents, that’s not the best next step.
Rather than ranting when our kids don’t make a good choice, we should use empathy instead. From there, state the consequence and put it back on the child.
“Bummer. You didn’t get the garbage out to the road to be collected. I went ahead and did it before I went to bed. And I took $10 out of your account to pay for my time.”
Or, “I noticed that you decided to watch Netflix instead of doing your homework this afternoon. Unfortunately that means that you choose not to go to your friend’s house after dinner. That’s a bummer because I know you were looking forward to that.”
Examples like this were energizing. They put the responsibility and consequences back on the child and let the parents stay detached. This gives the child both ownership and the results of their actions. As the parent, you’re not escalating the situation with anger.
Right now, none of us have extra energy. Getting to stay emotionally detached from the outcomes of our children’s mishaps allows us to stay in compassion and keep the onus on our wonderful kiddos.
Robin concluded by sharing that now her child often jumps in and takes care of a chore or situation without being asked–something I think we all aspire to have happen in our households. She said that he knows he will be held accountable and takes the less painful path. We call that taking responsibility!