Re-living childhood

My second child and second daughter has a lot of the same personality traits as I do. She’s loud, she’s sensitive, she’s a born leader, she’s all or nothing, and she loves to laugh! I’m both excited and fearful for her. Because frequently when she tells me how she is having a relational problem, overwhelmed or fearful I can distinctly remember how it felt when I was a kid. Not only do I remember the feeling, I can usually associate it with a life experience that I have had.

Being around kids transports us back to our own childhood, good and bad. We want so badly to prevent the trials and heartaches. So we offer advice, we implement structure, and are swift with discipline; all with the hope that our kids will be stronger, wiser, and happier than we were growing up. But do we as parents cross the line from teaching to dictating?

With my daughter I know that with our personality we can come across as bossy. So I help to direct her natural leadership by encouraging certain phrases to use instead. But in that process I am certain that I have discouraged her and her personality. It was no longer about teaching her, but instead stifling her natural bend given at birth because I did not want her to experience the pain that I did. Though my intentions were noble, my implementation was flawed.

I’ve been challenged to reconsider the moments I deem as instructional. I instead now take a moment and determine if my intervention is even necessary. I realized that there are some battles and experiences she needs to have on her own. If after this thought process I determine this is a time when I can educate, I will intervene privately. Otherwise I will watch, listen, and be available if she wants to talk about it.

What are some areas that you find in your own kids that reflect an attribute that you share? How have you responded to them, have you been a teacher or dictator? What actions will you change to assist them instead of controlling them?

We as parents can relate, we just want them to NOT experience the pain we have. We want them to avoid the pitfalls and temptation. We want them to be scar free when they become an adult. But instead of focusing so much on trying to prevent, we should listen, have empathy for their concerns, and have courage to allow them to make their own choices!

Paige Clingenpeel

Teen Therapist working with teens and parents on TV, Radio, Web-Based Media, Blogs, and Print. Presently a monthly contributor to the women's parenting & marriage site iMom.com, and host of TBN's Tween show iShine K'Nect. Paige also provides individual therapy at LifeSprings Counseling Center, and works at Parkview Health as a student assistant counselor assigned to Carroll High School. Paige is married to Ryan and has two daughters and two sons!