by Bette Levy Alkazian
We need to model our humanness for our kids and to show them how to make mistakes, how to tolerate the discomfort of living with those mistakes, and most importantly, how to make things better. Sometimes, the best modeling involves admitting that we don’t have all of the answers and that we have to employ an expert who can help us. This models resourcefulness – a very important value – and also that we don’t have to know it all. We just have to keep going until we figure it out.
In life, we are all faced with challenges:
- Job loss
- Death of a loved one
- Financial stress
- Work stress
The list is never-ending.
The true measure of a person is how he or she stands up to those challenges.
Kids watch their parents constantly, and much more than you think. They are learning how to navigate through life’s many challenges. As the parent, you are their example.
Kid: “Mommy, you’re a b*tch!” I ask myself, “Where did she get that?” All too often, a kid will see another kid do something at school and not quite know what to do with it. Then, she brings it home and tries it out on mom and dad. Watching mom and dad’s response, she figures she can take that response back to the school yard. These are great teachable moments and are often a good opportunity to teach our kids how to handle difficult peer situations out of experience and compassion. Parents, unfortunately, often miss this teaching opportunity.
When your child misbehaves, ask yourself, how would I want my child to handle this if someone else did it to him or her?
I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to hold yourself to a higher standard now that you’re parents. Pretend as if there is a video camera following you around all of the time. In reality, there are little eyes watching and absorbing!
- Don’t let challenges become roadblocks or excuses!
- Turn your challenges into opportunities for growth and learning.
“Parenting Backwards” involves modeling integrity. The very core of integrity means honesty, sincerity, and congruence. Your words need to match your actions. Your words and actions need to match your values. Your values are one of the most important gifts you give to your children.
Do what you say you will do, follow through, be predictable, trustworthy and solid for your kids. This will ensure their sense of safety and security enabling them to comfortably explore the world.
About Bette Levy Alkazian
Beth Levy Alkazian, LMFT, a marriage and family psychologist, parenting coach and speaker, was one of the seven finalists out of 15,000+ applicants to become Good Morning America’s Advice Guru. She is the author of Parenting Backwards. Learn more about Bette at www.BalancedParenting.com.