Sometimes as parents we don't feel a need to explain our decisions to our children; "because I said so" was the blanket answer I got if I dared questioned my mother's decision on just about anything. Explaining your position to your children doesn't minimize your authority. It gives a clear understanding to them why something may not be appropriate; it makes it easier to accept the no if they undersatnd it; it gives them an opportunity to better understand your expectations and reasoning, and it could possibly lead to a much needed conversation. Saying "because I said so" doesn't leave much room for growth and presents a missed opportunity to connect and share with your child.
Here's an example of a situation you can take the approach of explaining yourself instead of just saying, "Because I said so". Your child asks you to go to a party but you're uncomfortable with it. Instead of just saying no, explain yourself; find a story to tell because stories help people connect better with a situation. Say something like; "When I was your age, I was invited to a party and one of the kids ended up getting super drunk and causing a riot. Kids can get pretty crazy without parents around and I am not comfortable with you going". You've made your stance clear, but at the same time you didn't alienate your child, you showed them that you have compassion and understand and care about their feelings. No, we don't owe them an explanation, but giving one definitely creates a safer and more trusting relationship.
I also found earlier in my parenthood that many of my "no's" were given solely because it was the answer I would have gotten from my parents or because of some societal standards and not because it was how I genuinely felt. Allowing my children to ask "why" or "why not" to my decisions made me realize that I was raising them on auto pilot; not using my own beliefs and values, but those of my parents and society; I wasn't even taken the time to contemplate what I was being asked! So, I made a conscious decision to really think about my reasoning, even if the answer was, I just have a gut feeling that something isn't right with this; I would always explain if asked, just as I expected for them to do for me if I asked them.
You don't have to be an invincible human being to your children! You don't have to pretend your feelings don't get hurt or that anger is the only feeling you possess, you don't have to act unbreakable! Showing your children that you are human with human emotions doesn't minimize your authority. They won't suddenly run all over you because they don't think you're a super hero! What they will do is be more considerate, compassionate, respectful, and appreciative! When people think you are unbreakable or can't be hurt, they tend to not even consider that you are hurt or bothered! But, when they know your feelings are just as real as theirs, they will think before doing things; they will consider your feelings!
Yelling at your children for doing something that hurt or scared you relays the message of anger and will likely cause them to shut down and stop listening and the message will be missed. But, if you communicate how they made you feel; I guarantee you will get a better outcome. Check these scenarios. You're in the store and you turn around and your child is gone! You look around for a minute and you don't see them. Finally you walk a couple of isles over and you spot them! Instead of going up to them and yelling, telling them NOT to do it again, you get down to eye level, look them in the eyes, using a very stern voice, you say to them...You wandering off really scared me, I don't know what I would do if something ever happened to you. Don't ever do that again! Which one evokes more connection & emotion and really...which one is the TRUTH, you weren't angry you were likely scared!
How about if your teenager is failing Math, but you know they can do better? Instead of yelling, demanding they do better and punishing them; what if you told them that you're really worried about their future, that it scares you to think they won't be able to have the life they want because they are choosing to fail instead of succeed! What if you explained to them that you were very nervous because you knew they would be completely on their own really soon and if they didn't make better choices now, they would probably have a really difficult life in the future! What if you asked them what you needed to do to support and help them do better? Which scenario do you think will get more results, which one would you have responded to as a teenager?
I am SO excited to announce that after many years, I am following my passion of becoming a Certified Life Coach! If anyone knows me, they know I am passionate about making a positive impact and I absolutely love to help others grow, discover their best self and live their most authentic life! I've been coaching unofficially forever and now I am ready to live in my purpose, become certified and take my place in the world helping others succeed and most of all LOVE life!
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