Monday, July 21, 2014

Emotionally Mature Parenting

Parenting is, and always has been, a difficult job. This is especially the case today since kids more than ever need a wholesome upbringing in order to be successful and happy. Our kids have very few resources to gain such a wholesome upbringing if it isn’t for parents stepping up to the plate.

We all remember when our children were growing up. We were down on our knees, holding out our arms, encouraging our children to take their first steps. When our child fell or stumbled, we didn’t shout, spank or reprimand. We simply smiled, soothed, and encouraged. In other words, we motivated our child to succeed as much as possible.

Then our child got older and suddenly our attitudes started changing. We may have started getting mad and snapping for little misdemeanors. Then as they approach their teen years, we may have gotten even more upset at them to the point where we may even be mean to them.  One may wonder, what happened to all of the encouraging and open love that we showed our teens during childhood?

In order to bring up our teens, in a wholesome and emotionally mature manner, we should try to recapture some of that positive attitude that we had towards them when they were young so that we could raise confident, self-disciplined and happy teenagers. Sometimes, our own beliefs get in the way of emotionally mature parenting. Here are a few ways to fine tune our parenting skills so that we can become more emotionally mature parents.

1.      Practise joyfulness. We should give our teens the sense that life is meant to be enjoyed, not just gotten through. A sense of joy brings a sense of aliveness and vitality. And this will help our teens to become joyful and happy adults.

2.      Instill a sense of peace and well-being within the family. Parents can establish a positive environment or climate by creating a sense of serenity and encouraging positive feelings and behaviors over negative ones. Peace overcomes fear, insecurity, and other negative emotions. Once a teen experiences peace, she will carry that feeling with her right into adulthood.

3.      Practise patience. Patience is the ability to stay grounded in tough situations and put up with difficult people. Parenting is a tough job and teens can be difficult to tolerate sometimes. But by practising patience in the home, teens will be patient with their siblings and peers as well.

4.      Practise kindness. Kindness is a mellowness and sweetness in one’s attitude. Kindness is the opposite or chafing, irking, and galling. Teens need to be the natural receivers of daily acts of kindness. Kindness dispensed on a daily basis can become the antidote for cynicism or a mean spirit. Try to practise random acts of kindness with teens. Then as our teen grows up, she’ll be able to show others such random acts of kindness as well.

5.      Practise generosity. Generosity requires that we possess a warm-spirited nature and to practise kindness. By generosity, I don’t imply a vision of dollar signs dancing in the minds of teens. What I mean is a generous spirit. A generous parent has a spirit of forbearance, forgiveness, and understanding. For instance, parents can be generous with teens by spending time with them and enjoying activities together.

6.      Exercise integrity. A parent with integrity has a consistent behavior pattern under all circumstances and in all places. To have integrity is to be a whole person. A person with integrity is like a solid piece of linoleum—she is the same all the time and all over.  Once we demonstrate integrity in the home, our teens will emulate it too.

7.      Show gentleness towards our teens. To be gentle is to be considerate. In order for teens to learn how to be considerate, parents have to model gentleness in the home on a daily basis. There is an old word that captures the meaning of gentleness—meekness. To be meek means to channel raw energy, power, and ability in the service of goodness and wellness. We have to teach meekness to their teens.

8.      Practise self-control. This is the ultimate parenting virtue. When parents practise self-control, they are in charge of their own volatile emotions and don’t allow anger to cloud their judgment. The most important discipline in the world for parents has nothing to do with making teens behave. On the contrary, it is to teach our teens to act a certain way by our example. Only when parents are under control are we capable of being in charge. Self-control can lead to self-discipline, and this will help our teens become self-disciplined too.

By trying to practice and emulate these emotional traits and attitudes towards our teens, they will be encouraged to become mature human beings in adult life. So, it is up to us to try and foster these virtues in our teens.  But first we have to demonstrate emotional maturity ourselves in the family.

~ Irene S. Roth

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