One of my phenomenal mom friends on Facebook posted about her growing teen children – she has four, two are teens. She’s intersecting Skype, keeping tabs on texting, watching and engaging about the opposite sex and asks us, friends ahead of her, “What’s next? What do I need to know to stay ahead of the game?”
I can’t respond because I can’t tell her what I know with every fiber of my being. Maybe she won’t believe me, maybe it wasn’t the intent of her question, but here is all I wanted to write in a tiny box and hit “reply”:
This moment begins the art of letting go AND empowering them. Both.
By “letting go” I do not mean “Oh, kids will be kids” or “They’ll figure it out.”
Far from it.
I mean, let go so that in 2, 5, 10 years from now they can make great choices without mom around.
What we most need is discussion on how to take the bumpers off the bowling alley one and say, “Here’s how you do this,” instead of “Don’t.”
The bridge between the gap of “Don’t do this” and the day they leave for a job or college on their own is trust. Trust cultivated over time because we gave them opportunities. We parented toward letting go.
So, we begin the shift:
Here’s what it’s going to take for us to trust you with social media.
Here’s what its going to take for us to let you talk to a girl on Skype.
Here’s what its going to take for us to let you have a boyfriend.
Here’s how you build trust with us so we can say “Yes, you are ready.”
The focus shifts from getting them to obey to getting them ready to be personally responsible for themselves. (Okay, it IS about them obeying, but every piece of obedience is proof for us to let go even more.) Later, you have empowered your child to understand:
This is how I use social media.
This is how I Skype.
This is how I have a boyfriend.
This is how I build trust with adults.
Want to let go even more – which means empowering them even more?
Talk with the intent of, “Tell me what you already know.”
Listen with the intent of learning from them (what they’re thinking, why they want to do something, etc.).
Watch with the intent of finding the good they do- and calling it out. Tell them where you saw good choices, friends, social media viewing, etc.
Look for ways to let them make their own decisions. (Yes check behind them. Yes, search the online history, the search, keep the electronics in public, and yes keep talking to them.)
But intend on letting go…. imagining them taking personal responsibility when you’re not around. Intend that one day, they won’t only hear your voice in their head saying what they should be doing, but how great they are and how much you think of them.
All of that.
As we let go.
Below is a video that came up right as I was writing this post. May it complete the concept I’m trying to get along – substitute the pineapple for social media, iphone, studying, life in general.
Share below your ONE AWESOME TIP toward empowering your child.
Vikki Spencer, Mom Coach, The Mom Whisperer
And don’t forget to share!