Do you believe something about being a parent that is causing your children to feel unworthy, unimportant, or powerless?
Let’s find out, shall we?
Imagine, if you will, a couple of common scenarios involving parenting.
In the first scenario, you’ve had a long day and it’s your child’s bedtime. You’re tired, they’re cranky, and all you want to do is relax with a book or have a quiet conversation with your partner. You give your child a bath, read them a bedtime story, and tuck them in, but they don’t want to stay in bed. They get out of bed and follow you into the living room.
You calmly tell your child to get back into bed. They respond, “But I don’t want to go to bed!”
You tell them again, a little more sternly this time, to get to bed, and they say, “Noooo!” and throw themselves on the living room rug, complaining that they don’t want to go to bed and want to stay up with you instead.
What do you do or say?
Now imagine a different scenario, your child is a 14-year old girl. She wants to go out with a group of friends on a Friday night to see the late showing of a movie, then walk to a sleepover at a friend’s house who lives within walking distance of the theatre. You aren’t comfortable with your child walking around the neighborhood at midnight, and you say so.
“But mom (or dad)—.” She responds, and begins to negotiate with you.
No matter how many times you tell your daughter “no” and explain why it’s a terrible idea, she keeps insisting that it’s “okay” and keeps wanting to know “why” you won’t let her.
What do you do or say?
In this article, you’ll find out if your responses to these types of scenarios indicate that you have a certain belief about parenting. And if so, you’ll want to keep reading, because I’m going to explain how this common belief is at the core of most parenting dysfunction.
Let’s examine how most other parents might respond.
The first example, in which your child doesn’t want to go to bed when you need them to, is an extremely common situation.
Anyone who’s ever been a parent has probably, at some point in their child’s young life, experienced this struggle. You need them to go to bed at a reasonable hour so they can get a healthy amount of sleep, and they want to stay up with you. You want some “alone” time, and they want more of your attention.
How would you respond? If you’re like a lot of parents, you may say:
I’m tired of fighting with you about this. Get into bed NOW.
Stop whining and get in bed.
If you don’t go to bed right now, you’re going to be sorry.
Do you want to be punished?
Get to bed now OR ELSE!
In the second scenario, when your teen daughter wants to stay out late and go to a sleepover, and keeps negotiating and debating with you, do you respond to her this way, perhaps?
I said no. Stop asking me.
I don’t care what your friends are doing. I don’t want you doing that.
No! For the last time, no.
Why? Because I said so!
If these responses sound familiar to you, it may indicate that you have a belief about what it means to be a parent. And this belief causes you to respond in a certain way to your children when they want something you don’t want to allow, or when they won’t do something you need them to do.
What is this belief?
You believe that you’re responsible for your child’s behavior. That they have to do as you say, because you’re in charge, not them.
Unfortunately, this belief can have dire consequences on your child’s beliefs about him or herself.
Imagine now that you’re the child in both the scenarios I brought up in this article.
You want to hang out more with your mom or dad, and you hear, “No! Get into bed now, or you’ll be punished!”
You want to have fun with your friends and try to convince your parent that you’ll be safe and responsible, and they keep saying no, won’t listen to you, and finally tell you, “No, because I said so!”
What would you conclude about yourself from those responses? Would you think that your feelings and needs are important? Or would you think that what you want doesn’t matter?
Would you think that you have some agency over your life, or would you feel powerless?
Children who are frequently faced with parents who are angry, frustrated, and domineering with words and behavior when there’s a conflict, may likely come to the worst conclusions about themselves: that they are unworthy, unlovable, and powerless.
And yes, I know that parenting is tough. It can be the toughest job in the world!
I’m not suggesting that you have to let your kids run you ragged or indulge their unsafe habits or unhealthy behaviors. Certainly, children need parenting and they need guidance.
But it’s the way you parent, what you do and what you say to your children, that can make all the difference in how they feel about themselves.
When you change your beliefs about parenting, and as a result change the way you approach your children, you can positively affect their self-esteem and their self-respect.
And having high self-esteem and self-regard can mean the difference between raising a child who ends up being a happy, confident, and capable adult, and raising a child who ends up being an unfulfilled adult who doesn’t have what it takes to live their best life.
Here’s how to make sure you give your child the best advantage you can, simply by changing what you believe and how you parent.Learn More
You know what’s great about recognizing that you have beliefs that don’t serve you or your children? You can change your beliefs, at any age!
I grew up forming certain negative beliefs about myself and about parenting, but I didn’t recognize those beliefs until well into adulthood. I believed that I could only have value if others thought well of me. That came from seeing my mother putting so much focus and importance on what others thought. I also wondered if I was capable because she did a lot of things for me and didn’t give me any chores.
My father was very bossy around eating. He would say to me something to the effect of, “Don’t eat those cookies! You’ll get fat.” In response to that, I felt rebellious and wanted to eat whatever I wanted, and maybe that hasn’t been the healthiest thing for me.
Thankfully, I took steps to obliterate those beliefs in myself, and raised my daughters to be true to themselves (as long as their decisions weren’t hurtful to themselves or others).
When you have the common belief that you’re the boss of your children, you’re likely to also believe that children can’t be trusted, that you have final say, and that YOU know what’s best for them.
That can lead to all sorts of detrimental, disempowering behavior toward your children, but it doesn’t have to.
You can learn the skills and tools that not only help make parenting easier, calmer, and more fun, they also help you instill positive self-beliefs in your children whenever you interact with them.
These skills and tools are what my audio program, Parenting That Empowers: How To Ensure Your Child Becomes A Happy, Confident, Capable Adult, is all about.
In this breakthrough program, you’ll learn how to parent your children in a way that gets them to cooperate and do what’s best for them, without forming negative self-beliefs.
You’ll hear me role-play the scenarios I describe in this article, as well as scenarios having to do with doing chores, lying, backtalk, homework, and more. You’ll be amazed at what the right tone, body language, and empowering words can have on both YOU and your children.
Try these tools for yourself and see how your child responds positively to what you say, not because you’re conceding to their demands, but because they are participating in the decision, all while feeling positive about themselves.
You can start listening in a matter of minutes, risk-free, here:Parenting That Empowers
When you change your beliefs, you change your behavior. And when you change your behavior towards your children, you change how they feel about themselves.
And that can make all the difference in their lives.
P.S. When you’re on the phone and your child wants to talk to you or play with you, what can you say to them other than, “Not now, I’m on the phone,” that’s more empowering and makes them feel loved and important, but still allows you space to have that phone call?
In Module 1 of my program, Parenting That Empowers, I refer to this common scenario to illustrate how different responses have a different effect on your child’s self-beliefs. Learn a better way to respond to ALL sorts of common parenting scenarios here:How To Respond