Before my daughter was born, it was a mystery to me as to how parents managed to make their children listen to them and respect the fact that parents are authority figures and know better. I couldn’t even figure out how my parents managed to maintain a big and active household and raise 3 extremely chaotic and creative children in an atmosphere of peace and mutual respect.
Later on, I realized that it was most probably because we lived not just as a family, but as a real community, and had fun things going on. Parents need to show their children that they’re not just a walking set of rules, but they’re real human beings with feelings, thoughts, morals, habits, and emotions, just like anyone else. This helps children have a better understanding of their parents, their rules and actions, and, consequently, make the communication flow smoothly.
Here are some simple tricks that will help you show your kid that under the hard shell of a parent, there’s a real person underneath. More importantly, the child will not only learn about you, but also some social and self-presentation skills.
Prove Your Authority
After the era of the all-knowing parent and the trusting child comes to be the rebellious one, where we often get the “Only just because you’re my parents, I shouldn’t listen to you”, and similar speeches. Let your child see you at work, or with friends or colleagues, giving advice that really helps, handling difficult work situations. This will show your kid that you’re the boss not just because parents are allowed to be, but also because you know what you’re talking about. A lot of other people trust you and seek your advice.
Show How You Communicate
If it’s not too distracting, bring your child when running errands or to some meetings that are informal. Let your child experience the diversity of different types of communication and give them some practice – at the dry cleaner’s, with your boss, or with elders. This way, they will see that everything you teach them about talking to peers or to people of authority is for real.
Yes, of course you have to maintain your parental persona, but you should be able to have fun too. Especially, have fun with your kids, get loose a little bit. No one wants strict and boring parents. Of course, parents and children have different ideas of fun, especially as kids get older. What would help is showing your kids your kind of fun, and in return, asking them about theirs. This way, you will have more common topics for conversation, and not just “Did you finish your homework?”, or “Wash the dishes and clean up”.
Tell Your Child How You Feel
Children do a lot of things that upset their parents. Refusing to do homework, staying out too late, getting tattoos, choosing careers their parents didn’t really want for their children. But a wordless disapproval won’t work any good for parent-child communication. Tell them how you really feel as a person, and why. You can use short moral stories to explain your point of view.
Admit to being Tired/Annoyed/Unhappy
Also admit to having made a mistake. When you’re constantly in parent mode, you’re trying to do your best and keep your head up high. Staying strong for your kids, being positive. To be the one always coming to the rescue. But once in a while, you have to admit to your child that even an amazing parent like you can be tired, or you did something wrong. Show your children that it’s okay to take a break sometimes, to not be energized all the time, and to be wrong sometimes. It’s important to be able to admit to that, and to learn to from your mistakes. Psychologists believe that teaching a child to be at the top of their game all of the time may cause them a lot of stress. It could even lead to depression in their 20s, as they will feel disappointed, as soon as they don’t get that perfect result at work, in relationships, or in any other important matter.
Society gave us so many standards that we believe we have to meet. Being a good parent is one of them. However, being a genuine person is as important. Children need to see us out in the real world, see who we are, and how we exist. They need to see that everything we teach them is important and applicable in real life. Leave parent mode from time to time.
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