How to Answer Your Own Parenting Questions
Ever wonder how to handle a parenting problem? Whether it is about doing chores, sibling issues, preparing your child for the future or best practices for teaching your kids about life, many parents wonder if they are doing the right thing. This brings up parenting questions that are common in many family homes.
While there are plenty of experts that can tell you what to do when situations arise, I prefer to empower my parent clients to access what they know. After all, who knows your child better than you do? What if it is time to access your intuitive connection with your child.
I am not suggesting that you don’t seek outside assistance, especially where life threatening situations exist, like a medical condition, but even in those situations, I would invite you to be aware of what your Knowing tells you.
When a parent is faced with a behavior issue, like siblings fighting, or a cooperation situation, like not listening or doing what they are told, a parent can be more empowered to handle these situations when they have taken time to be with some questions from the start.
These questions open you up to receiving the awareness of what you do know and to the possibility of a different way to respond. How many times, have you kept trying to address an issue, whether it’s parenting or some other issue, by always doing the same thing. It’s as if we think that if, “I just try harder, one of these days it will work.” In the meantime, you live with guilt- I should have done better, or frustration- and maybe even anger that leads you back to guilt or shame. What if there is something that will get you there faster? With more ease and more joy? There is and it is about doing something DIFFERENT, not the same, and not applying more force to it.
When parents ask me how to handle situations, I know that they are asking for me to give them a definitive answer that will work. That doesn’t empower the parent, and how can I possibly know their kids better than they do? When that is the case, I go to asking the parent questions. These questions are designed to bring to light what is truly going on for the parent in the situation. When the parent realizes their own expectations, their own connection to the “problem,” they can see it from a different perspective that allows them to see their child with more compassion. When we parent from this space, we can more effectively guide our children to be aware, to make different choices, and to eliminate the need to rebel, or fight back to get what they want. Parents can use empowering questions to enlighten themselves and their children.
When a situation or issue arises, I suggest using some of these questions as starters to gain your own awareness of what may truly going on and how you can handle it this time around (which will most likely be different the next time). These questions aren’t about getting the right answer. They are about accessing what you “know” through your awareness. These are suggestions and I am sure that they will inspire other questions to come through for you to use.
- What do I know about this issue or situation?
- What comes up for me in this situation?
- What has been my reaction? Is that working? Who am I being? Whose ________ is this?
- What am I expecting? Is this possible with my child?
- What is going on for my child? What do I know about this with my child?
- What would be a different way to respond to this situation?
I will use the example- It is a struggle to get my child to do his chores. Note that as this is my example, your situation and your child most likely will be different. It will give you an idea of how I have applied these questions to my own parenting situation and have received my own awareness around this situation.
What do I know about this situation?
I know that growing up doing chores was expected of me, I would get into trouble if I didn’t do my chores, my parents weren’t happy with me when I didn’t do them. I know that I value doing chores as a way of working together as a family, being part of a team. I know that I appreciate having my kids help me with the household duties.
What comes up for me in this situation?
When I think about my child not doing his chores, I recall the disappointment that my parents felt towards me. I fear that my child will grow up and not know how to take care of his room and will have a messy place to live in. I worry that he will not value having a place of his own and take care of it so that it will last. I worry that I will always be the one to have to do everything. I worry that he doesn’t care about me. Notice where this goes as far as our own fears and worries.
What has been my reaction? Is that working?
Who am I being? Whose ________ is this?
When he doesn’t do his chores, I get angry. I will threaten to take away his toys or his TV time. I will yell, which makes us both upset. He may do it when I threaten, but then I must keep that up the next time. I would really like for him to just do it.
I feel like I am being my parent when I was growing up- they would threaten me and take away my playtime. I felt upset and angry when they did that. I felt like they didn’t understand me. Sometimes I felt that they just wanted me around so I could do their work for them. I resented them and yet it is their voice that I hear when I talk with my child about doing chores.
Whose anger/frustration is this? While it feels like mine, I totally get that it isn’t mine and that I am just being what my parents were to me. (this is a great awareness, not about making your parents wrong, just recognizing what you are doing and that you have the power to choose something else.)
What am I expecting? Is this possible with my child?
What is going on for my child? What do I know about this with my child?
I expect my child to help with chores, to do them without argument, to be happy to help with our family in this way. I realize that this may not be totally realistic for my child. I know that my child really enjoys playing and having fun. I know that he sees chores as boring. I haven’t told him how much his help means to me and how much it helps me to have more time for play too. I know that my child likes to get things done quickly so he doesn’t have to spend a lot of time on things he doesn’t like. I know that my child will do more if he has a reason for doing so. I know that my child does love me and does care for me. I know that sometimes he thinks that chores are the only important thing there is. I wonder if he thinks he is my slave too?
What would be a different way to respond to this situation?
I would like to give my child more of a say in what chores he would like to do. I would like to invite him to make the chores fun, to maybe even think of it as if we are on the same team and the goal is to get this one task done so we can do the victory touchdown celebration. I think I might even find some fun in doing the chores with him. I will let him know how much I appreciate his help and how it makes my day so much better. I will look for ways to not be so demanding but to let him know what all needs to be done and how would he suggest that we go about getting them done in time to have time to play.
As you read through this process, do you get a sense of how this isn’t just about making the child do chores? It is also about being aware of how you are showing up and what you are bringing from your own past experiences. Where are you not willing to be more flexible in how you approach raising your kids. When you are willing to ask these kinds of questions, you can gain a different perspective that allows you to be kinder to your children as well as to yourself. You can then connect more with your kids in a way that they know they are valued just for being themselves. What a gift!
This is a new way to be with yourself and your children. I wonder if it isn’t time NOW, to begin to offer our kids a different approach to being raised in today’s world?
Tune into this replay of Frequently Asked Parenting Questions for more tips and tools.
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