I want to speak more on the response to my last post. My youngest daughter trusted me and felt that she could make an agreement with me and then honor that agreement. How did that come about? It is possible that my older daughter also trusted me – she also made an agreement with me and she may have honored it, I hope so, but I have no way of knowing for sure. Both my daughters are healthy and happy today, responsible adults living good lives. This is the bottom line of what I wanted for them. I am happy they have it. I had a part in that, but what part? And, could I recreate it with any child/youth? Of course not.
There are no absolutes. But, there are certainly tried and proven methods for developing relationships with children that foster trust and build relationship that enables the child/youth to turn to the parent/adult with trust that what they have to say will be heard and honored and willingness to listen to the responsive thoughts, beliefs, and hopes of the parent/adult.
The tried and proven method primarily involves recognizing from an early age that children are fully human beings, not less than adults. That children can not run their own lives yet, but their opinions and preferences are important enough to ask after and consider as decisions are being made. Not that their opinions and preferences are always the deciding factor, but that they are one of the factors in the decision. That the child/youth understands, through many repetitions and experiences, that adults also do not always get to make decisions in which the adults opinions and preferences are met either. But, the children/youth are able to see that to the best of their ability, the parents/adults work to meet the opionions/preferences of the youth as hard as they work to meet their own opinions/preferences. When the preferences diverge, sometimes the kids get what they want instead of the parents getting what they want. The parents gracefully allow for that. Sometimes the parents get what they want and encourage (by example and discussion) for the kids to gracefully allow for that.
This can sound easier than it feels – I had a hard time with it, but looking back, I know it is one of the main reasons my daughters still honor me – I ALWAYS honored them, I always was willing to listen to their opinion and treat it as a valid opinion, and tell them when I disagreed and why I disagreed, but did not require that they change their opinion.
Does this sound doable to you? Have you tried it with your children? It is possible to shift into this perspective no matter what age your child – none is too young and none is too old. Let me know what you think.
I cannot remotely begin to imagine fathoming the concept of telling my parents when I first planned to have sex, or of having any conversation about sex with them. All three of us would rather jump off a bridge.
However, I had a good relationship with them and I did feel, always, that my preferences mattered to them a great deal. We just didn’t talk about sex.
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