‘The idea of ‘The Struggle’, and how to manage the struggle to grow, is the most critical issue in parenting today. Every child has to experience ‘the struggle’ in order to grow,’ he said, to introduce his talk. If one fails at that, you have situations similar to what he is called to address at colleges -who don’t know what to do with kids who can’t handle conflict, issues with other kids, room-mates, adversity, failure, and basic decision-making, because parents swooped in to ‘save the child’ every time there was a conflict.
Point #1: ‘The struggle is NOT bad; it’s necessary’! Point #2: growth requires struggle (and kids will push the envelope). Point #3: How you parent together in managing that struggle is absolutely essential. The parenting is not effective if you’re not ‘together’ and are arguing all the time. If you have ‘the world of the husband’ and ‘the world of the wife’ you’re teaching kids: 1) to manipulate to get what they want; 2) confusing messages about what they need to have; and as a result, 3) 70% of kids by age 16 ½ side with one parent over the other. (And maybe its the stricter one). This is not about who is right– which is a waste of time; being ‘together’ on parenting is ‘right’. Finally, 4) If you want to save a kid from suffering or can’t tolerate a kid being upset, you’re sending him/her the message that you don’t trust that ‘I’m capable on my own’. It’s a form of micro-managing.
Shub had several dynamic examples as he engaged with the audience. Perhaps the first parenting hurdle is confusion over bedtime rules. This is why you then have 11-year olds still sleeping in mom’s bed. Another hurdle is the homework wars. ‘Pleading is not on the top ten list of parenting skills!’ he exclaimed. He said 2/3 of people in the U.S. are unhappy in their relationship. The reason is they don’t have the skills to sustain an intimate relationship and deal with adversity, which is part of growing up. In a real relationship; real intimacy starts with how you handle the struggle. Reminder: struggle is NOT bad; frustration is part of the process. He cited Sunday’s NYT article about millennials in the workplace who are facing challenges because they didn’t learn the lesson. “We don’t just get to do what we want to! We don’t get to choose to take only subjects we’re good at, or like! And we can’t say, ‘It’s not part of my job!’ In marriage when you encounter an obstacle, it’s NOT 50/50; it’s 100-100! The sense of entitlement must go. The concept is that you need to do it all, not just the part you like,” Shub emphasized, in an animated fashion.
If a child’s parent gave them everything, how do they learn to ask for anything. A child needs to learn to ask for what they want and/or need. (And earn it, others might add.) The parent is also not the teacher; the child needs their support but not their advice. When a parent changes their behavior, kids change in three stages. Shub explained: 1) don’t just change tactics; talk about what you’re going to do. Always start with personal responsibility. “I want to help you, but I don’t want to be your teacher.”-or-“ I don’t want to yell at you.” 2) A child is only ‘open’ when their window is open- for instance, in the car, or at bedtime. Ask your child what he/she thinks would be helpful. 3) Intervene in a way to help him/her. Discuss your own struggle; be honest. The job is to help each other. If you’re the cheerleader it’s not helpful- that implies they need your help to complete the task. Making suggestions or showing a child ‘how’, is not helpful either. A child must complete the struggle on his/her own.
In a group of kids doing poorly, it was not an instance of hating school, but when he/she stopped caring about him/herself. No amount of structure can help that. Building self-esteem includes: knowing who they are, articulating what is special about them, being in touch with how they feel and what they believe is a measure of themself as a human being. It is a growth process in learning and developing character, as one engages in parenting from the heart.
For more information:
http://www.gestaltassoc.com [Gestalt Associates, Inc.]
http://www.gestaltassoc.com/InSchoolPrograms.html [dynamic in-school parenting programs]
http://dublinact.org/ [Adolescents and Community Together]
http://www.percdublin.org/faqs.html [Parents Encouraging Responsible Choices]
http://www.dublinschools.net/Bail_PTO.aspx [Dublin City Schools PTO]