Stand Strong, Love Well.
This week I’m going to respond to a few questions and issues that have been commonly coming up.
I've chatted about them on the podcast. Pop here and look for the podcast of the same title:
Stand Strong, Love well
One of the things on many people’s minds at the moment is the difficult balance we have between keeping our boundaries in place and being a loving parent at the same time.
Do you feel like you’re always the bad guy? You’re not alone!
We have a blackboard in our kitchen that usually has a sage expression on it, something meaningful to chew on. At the moment it says:
And I’ve been sharing it with people as we chat through the challenge of being the boundary-setter and not wanting to lose relationship with our children.
It’s been particularly relevant lately as parents have had to take on the extra task of being a teacher too or at least a facilitator, and for some it can feel at the end of the day that you’ve been marking the boundaries all day and just being one big kill-joy.
When our children are very small, they repair easily. It’s not long before they’re back on your lap after you’ve had to restrain them from something.
As they get older, it’s quite common for parents to begin to clock that this relationship isn’t just a given. They can withdraw it. Scarey!
We can feel it’s easier to give in or have a show-down than to just stand strong.
So what does it mean to stand strong.
It means that we can be gentle and strong at the same time.
Our words can be soft and loving, but our boundaries can be immovable.
One of the ways to undermine a child is to shift the boundaries around depending on your mood and strength.
They press them because they want to know they’re safe.
It’s their job.
And it’s ours to cement them in. As long as they’re age-appropriate and well thought through.
If your ten-year-old’s bedtime is still 6.30, it could be time for a re-think.
But equally, if your ten-year-old’s bedtime is fast and loose because you haven’t got the fight in you, that’s very confusing for them now, and the message they’ll be getting for later, for those teen years when the stakes go up is…
Push hard enough and parents will budge.
Which they’ll then take into their other relationships. Not a healthy way to relate to people as life goes on.
So I’m going to speak to those of you who feel like you’re always the bad guy…
· You’re the kind guy.
· The one who puts the child above your own relational needs.
· The one who gives them what they need above what they want.
· You’re solid
· You’re consistent.
· You’re dependable.
And just to reassure you…
Children do a very good job of threatening the relationship when they don’t get their way, but actually, having consistent boundaries is not what causes the real breakages.
They recover from being disappointed by screen time coming to an end
And so on.
You’re building their resistance to disappointment
You’re developing their self-control
And believe it or not, you’re developing their self-esteem.
What if the midwife said, “Looks like a tough time, why don’t we leave it in there?”
When your child is pushing back and you’re re-establishing the boundary line - You’re loving well.
You’re not trashing the relationship.
So often, we see ‘Love’ in terms of giving. Whether that’s
Hot chocolates and home-made cake
But love is also being their self-control when they can’t
Think about the long-game, not the moment
Think about their character, not your need for harmony in that moment.
And know this…
They don’t hate you. They hate the boundary.
And they know that if they can persuade you that you’re unlovable in that moment, they might win the battle.
And then you’re into the scary territory of ‘who’s running this house?’
And that gets harder and harder to turn around.
In clash moments
Avoid explaining yourself or explaining the boundary.
They’re seeing red, they can’t absorb reason.
Let them know that you understand that it’s hard for them right now.
Be present, but don’t get in the pit.
Have a one-liner
You: “I’m ready to chat when we’re both calm.”
“But it’s not fair!”
“Why can’t I…?”
I’m ready to chat when we’re both calmer.”
“I am calm.!”
“When we’re both calm we can talk about this.”
Then leave it there
So just to reassure you, you’re not going to lose their love because you fight for what they need. You’re far more likely to break relationship if you get in the pit and slug it out.
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Have a great week.