We can complain about how things aren’t the way we want them to be, or we can take action and address our role and start to make some changes.
I was talking with a unhappy parent about how they wanted help with their teenage son. They wanted to be “less of the parent and more of a relative”. To step away from being a taxi service, cook or cleaner to their son and become more two adults co-caring in the same home.
What occurred to was who at the end of the day is responsible in this scenario? Who is the dictating factor? Whilst it’s certain that the son was playing a part, the parent needs to also reflect on their own behaviour. What are they engineering by capitulating to their son’s requests?
So often we complain that something is happening yet we can fail to recognise that we are also a contributing factor. How would have this unhappy parent arrived to the point where she no longer wanted to be a taxi service for her son? How has she enabled the son to learn to rely on her to do all the cleaning?
These questions are only there to stimulate awareness. To acknowledge we need to look to ourselves to start the changes we want to see happen.
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Get Real on What You Want
One of the important steps after this is to understand exactly how she’d like it to be. I suggested she get specific about what she wanted. To take the general grievances she had and write down how she wanted it to be, what life would be like as more of a relative and less of a parent. Get really clear on what it was for her.
Sometimes we get so in our heads about how we like things to be yet don’t take the time to understand what that actually looks like. She may say she doesn’t want to be a taxi service, yet in reality there may be times when she needs to be, and other times when she doesn’t. Looking into the detail can make a real difference. Sometimes these things are far more doable then we think. In fact, they may only require small steps, minor adjustments, to get to achieve what we want.
Break the Generalisations
It’s just a great reminder of when we face a challenge or begin to feel like an unhappy parent we need to confront the generalisations and ask, “What specifically is bothering me? What is it exactly blocking me?” You may not get a eureka moment, but I believe you’ll have a response that is more useful to work on and start taking some action.
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About the Author
Ben Jackson is the owner of The Parent and Pupil Coach delivering behavioural change programmes for 10-16 year olds. He coaches for leadership and transition for career parents and is regularly contributing to webinars and articles.