Parent With Hope and Honesty, Not Fear and Image Boosting
Author Wendy Mogel, suggests parenting with hope and not fear. She notes that hope is so much more productive than fear, and yet fear is so easy to revert to. And many of our fears define how we act, what we say, and how we feel, especially when it comes to our children’s well-being.
What are we truly afraid of? Sometimes just the unknown is enough to scare us, and when we take the time to think it through we begin to understand that the unknown is simply what is yet to come and not something to fear.
As our kids navigate their day-to-day activities, they will experience physical or emotional pain. There are so many things that could go wrong in life and it’s easy to want to shelter them from much of it.
That said, we must help them understand the danger and face it head-on or they will not be able to make healthy decisions when it comes time for them to make them on their own.
Parents often fear their children are experimenting with drugs and alcohol and worry that talking about it will only encourage it. That is not the case – talking about difficult topics is a great way to teach and to get to know your child even better.
Have open conversations with your kids about what you’re worried about.
Have you seen evidence of them drinking or using drugs?
Have you simply heard rumors about other kids doing it?
It’s never too early to start the conversation to help share your own values and concerns and to help them see this is an ongoing conversation and a topic they will need to consider more and more as they get older.
Ask them direct questions:
- Are you experimenting with drugs or alcohol?
- Do you want to?
- What makes you think you might want to experiment or why are you experimenting?
- What helps you relax?
- Why do you think I’m worried about you using drugs and alcohol?
Be ready for their answers and reserve judgment. Help them identify their decision making process and alternatives they could take. Provide healthy alternatives for them and recognize that they will find themselves in situations where the decision doesn’t always feel like a simple yes/no response. Respect that there are social norms your child is navigating.
Help them to find strategies to make healthy choices:
- What is a way you feel comfortable saying, “no”?
- Who do you hang out with that you can rely on to back you up?
- What can you do if you find yourself making an unhealthy choice?
- Who can you call or text if you feel like you need to get out of a situation?
- How can I support you?
And when you find yourself parenting out of fear – try to understand it. Then determine if that fear is truly warranted. Focus on your child. Your child is probably not scared, or at least not in the same way.
It’s their job to try new things and push boundaries. And it’s your job to educate them and help them learn from their mistakes moving forward.