NEW

Coach’s Response to the Question: “How do I stop criticizing and snapping at my kids?”

I don’t know anyone who never snaps or criticizes their kids, but I know everyone wishes they did it less. I asked 11 coaches to tell us their point of view on this topic. The challenge for you is to pick the one that resonates MOST with you and practice it for a few...

Some Not Too Lame Family Rules for Smartphone Usage

At some point, most teens will have a smartphone and will prefer that it’s attached to them at all times. My 12-year-old son literally went from his phone never being charged to him wanting it attached to his body at all times. The good news is that I now know that...

Why I’m Glad I Shattered my iPhone Screen

  “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” ―Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism I finally made the decision to get the iPhone 6 plus. The truth is, I vacillated on it because I feared it would be too big and awkward. Once I got it, I was pretty excited and fell...

Follow Your Joy, Teens Wreaking Havoc & What Great Parents Do

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT “Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” ~Joseph Campbell “People who follow their joy experience the fullness of their being,” says Robert Holden. How do we follow our joy? There is...

Raising Kids Who Are Good, Kind People Still Matters

Responsibility and kindness are important to many parents In a survey done by Pew Research in the Fall of 2014, it came out that the quality that most parents want to teach their children is responsibility. In groups that identify as consistently liberal, coming in...

Smartphones: the Good, the Bad, & the Sexty

Social media has given us this idea that we should all have a posse of friends when in reality, if we have one or two really good friends, we are lucky.” ~ Brene Brown My oldest son is 12 and I am noticing him keeping his phone right by his side, trying to look at it...

What Great Parents Do Well

Donald Miller, author of the new book Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy, reports that healthy and high-functioning people often have parents who do not hide their flaws, especially from their own children. “Healthy people tend to come from...

15 Parents Share their Thoughts about Technology and Our Kids

This week, at our local public middle school, we hosted a Principal’s Coffee chat where technology was the topic. In small groups, we brainstormed about the upsides to technology and the things we wonder (and worry) about…the questions that are swirling in our brains....

It’s Too Late, You Snapped at Your Kid. Now What?

So you snapped. Maybe you overreacted or said something you wished you didn’t say. Yes, it’s true, it’s the human condition – we are imperfect. (I like to say that we are perfectly imperfect) It doesn’t mean we just resign ourselves to reactive behaviors. We should do...

Use Common Sense with Digital Media

Last night I went to an event where the founder of Common Sense Media, Jim Steyer, spoke. It was interesting on many levels so I wanted to share what I learned 🙂 About Common Sense Media Do you use their website for your family? Quite honestly it’s been our go-to...

You are humanity's greatest hope.

Get Your "Be More You" Guide Here

I know you love your kids. Unconditionally.

The real question isn’t whether we love our kids, but rather – do they FEEL loved unconditionally.

You may be thinking, “Of course they do!” But so often I find that we make love and acceptance conditional—without even realizing it.

Loving them for who they are and setting high standards? But how?

Read more Expanded Views on Parenting.

This is really “up” for me right now. My older son is off to high school next year, and I am really curious how we’ll be able to ensure he feels loved no matter what he does and who he is, while still setting high standards for him to live up to his potential.

You see, while I have always loved my kids, my own actions haven’t always shown my love unconditionally. By realizing this, I hope to do better. Wouldn’t you like to show your kids unconditional love too?

Ironically, EVERYTHING we do comes from a place of love

father, son, family

Photo by Olichel on Pixabay

Let’s agree on this starting point: Everything we do is well-intentioned and totally comes from the place of love.

Now stick with me when we dissect where our intentions and our kids’ perceptions differ.

We want our kids to be accepted by their friends so we encourage tweaks and adjustments to their personality (toughen up, kiddo). We want them to be acceptable in society, so we urge changes in behaviors (stop chewing with your mouth open). We want them to be successful and do great things, so we set a high bar (all As and you’ll get that new iPhone) and rationalize that it’s our job to stretch them and ensure their success and financial independence. We want them to be responsible so we nag them about their laundry, homework, and the toilet seat.

We are trying to protect them.

But what if … to a child … those minor adjustments, pressures, and nudges are heard as you aren’t enough or I’d love you more if you… or I don’t love you as you are.

My heart breaks a little as I think about how many times I’ve been critical of my kids.

It’s tricky territory. We want them to be socially conditioned enough so they’ll have friends and be likable. We want them to be accepted by their peers. There’s a pretty widely held belief out there that it’s our obligation to shape them into “something better.” And, that if we don’t, our kids would surely miss the mark, end up a mess, and become homeless or live forever in our basement.

What messages are we really sending?

beach, relax, be yourself

Photo by ladyritzn on Pixabay

Ironically and regretfully, in order to make them into this “better” person that will be more “acceptable” to others, I fear we actually might be creating a situation where our kids don’t feel acceptable … to us!

When we were little, the same thing happened to us. We were taught that there are parts of us that aren’t acceptable (you’re too silly, too shy, too geeky, too quirky, too bold, sing too loud, aren’t grateful, want too much, are too much . . .).

We learned to reject parts of ourselves to be accepted by our primary caregivers—we learned that in order to feel that love, we need to act the way that makes us most lovable.

Even if you would never, ever in a million years stop loving your child no matter what he or she does, it’s possible that little messages you send are being perceived by your little one as conditional love: “I will love you more if you stop doing x or start doing y.”

Our relationship with them is impacted

Ultimately, we create disconnection in our relationship. Which is the opposite of what we want.

So how do we show unconditional love? How do we rebuild the connection?

Today try these 4 things:

1 – Bite your tongue. When you want to criticize, stop and find something you love about your child to focus on. Spend time really connecting with why this bothers you so much.

2 – Separate the behavior from the child. Instead of: “You’re such a slob. Why can’t you put your clothes in the hamper?”, talk neutrally only about the behavior (the clothes belong in the hamper or please put your clothes in the hamper). I know it’s tough, especially when you feel like you are constantly reminding your child about something. But try. Stop, get calm, say what you need to say about the behavior.

3 – Avoid labeling. Labels (slob, shy, lazy, athletic, funny, soooo kind, an “A student”, forgetful, too loud, too quiet, genius, wild, quiet, chatty) can stick and potentially keep our kids from becoming who they really are. And sometimes they aren’t really accurate – perhaps based on our interpretations and fears. If it’s a “negative” trait, get curious about why this trait bothers you, what are you worried about? If it’s a more positive trait, get curious why it’s so important to you that your child be [trait]. Labels limit us from seeing the real and unique child in front of us – their complex, contradictory, multidimensional little selves.

4 – Make time to be present. Our kids want time with us more than they say they do. This week, find 5 minutes free from distractions. In this time, put aside your preconceived notions of who your child is and pretend you are just meeting him or her. Each time see if you can learn something new about him or her. Perhaps sit down while they are watching a video and ask them what kind of videos they most like on YouTube. Ask them to teach you to play a game. Jump on the trampoline. Walk the dog. Eat ice cream.

And if you’re thinking, but it’s my job to teach my children how to behave in this world, I’ll cover that soon! We can love our children unconditionally and help them grow and become their best selves. Start today with helping your kids feel loved unconditionally.

Want to Go Deeper?

Here’s a bigger stretch goal – accept and love yourself unconditionally. This does NOT mean that we don’t expect more from ourselves. But we don’t do better because we beat ourselves up. Face it, we’re all imperfect humans. If we can practice accepting the things about ourselves that we don’t like, it will naturally get easier to accept those things in our kids. I know this is edgy. Let’s say they’re lying. I’m not suggesting that we accept that they are “liars.” Rather, I’d like us to really examine our relationship with lying and not condemn them. The truth is that most people lie (even you). Can we honor the impulse to lie? Who hasn’t felt that impulse to defend ourselves with a lie? And then talk about why we must practice being honest so that we can have a good relationship based on trust? That’s the nuance. We don’t make our kids “wrong” for feeling the impulse to lie..we help them see the benefits of not lying and guide them to making better choices. It’s not that we don’t expect more – we just bring more conscious awareness to the discussion. We stop reacting with judgment and instead start guiding with mindfulness.

You love your kids. Make sure they know—and feel—your unconditional love to keep your connection strong.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This