While I was preparing for my upcoming parenting course I started wondering why some parents don’t take advantage of such opportunities.
Then I remembered, so well, my struggle with my inner critic before I updated from my simple cell phone to an expensive smartphone, that required a more expensive “data plan”. I didn’t even know what a “data plan” was! I questioned myself endlessly, as I tend to do over expensive purchases. “Do I really need it? Is it worth the expense? And yes, I even answered myself! “I’ve gotten along just fine without it.” “Other people seem to be doing fine without these gadgets.” “It will take too much time to learn about it.” Truthfully, I even felt shame that I knew nothing about smartphones. I felt embarrassed and stupid that I didn’t even know what questions to ask.
When I finally decided to ‘just go for it’—to find out about these smartphones—I remember so well my sense of awe when the salesperson, Stephen, wisely and patiently took his time to show me all the features of what became my first smart phone. A couple of times I even exclaimed, “Wow!” Compared to my boring cell phone this smart phone was definitely SMART—and could make me smarter! These days successful, effective business leaders know that updating is a smart move.
So what does this have to do with parents not taking advantage of parent education opportunities? Well, I wonder if some of the reasons why parents don’t attend parenting workshops are the same reasons why I was reluctant to get a smart phone. I have heard parents say, “Parents should know what to do. It’s just common sense.” “It’s only parents in trouble who need parent education” or “I don’t have time.”
Yet, many of my clients know that keeping updated on the latest information about how to help children grow up to be happy and resilient is a smart move.
For instance, our parents could only have dreamed of the tools available to parents today — tools like learning the skills to become your child’s emotional coach, tools for discipline that promote a child’s self-discipline and self-motivation, strategies for dealing with tantrums effectively. Just learning this one thing—how not to be a “helicopter parent”— whose kids grow up to feel “entitled” or feel too scared to grow up and go out into the real world of work—could prevent a lot of future suffering.
Both parents and children have less stress and enjoy their life together so much more when parents learn such skills.
Just like the smart phone helps us cope with the digital age and the fast pace of our lives, research-based parent education can help you to prevent your child from going down the slippery slope of internet addiction, a growing, serious problem with youth today. (This is just one of the parenting problems parents, in the past, didn’t have to worry about.)
Being updated on the latest information on helping children grow up to be happy and resilient is a smart move. For example, some styles of parenting are outdated and make parenting harder. The authoritarian style and the permissive style—or as Barb Coloroso, author of “Kids Are Worth It” called them, the Brick Wall and Jellyfish models of parenting—are outdated and costly to you and your child. You can still use them but they are ineffective and time-wasting, producing poor results. They are as outdated as the typwriter! As with a smart phone, there are more options and more applications in parenting to make your job effective, enjoyable and efficient.
To carry this analogy just a little further, there is so much to learn about raising kids. As I have often said, “Parenting is all learned, not inherited.” The bad news is that learning on the job is inefficient and outdated. The good news is that you can learn how to talk so kids will listen (Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlich), and how to be respected and connected to your children even when you set limits. And you will smile, knowing that not much else in the world really matters more than raising children who believe in themselves and have the gifts of self-respect, inner strength, and a strong moral compass that will guide them throughout their life—even through the hazards of adolescence.
Stephen Covey once commented “There is so much good we that we can do in the world and it all starts in the home.”