Why Forbid When You Can Empower?
If you forbid your children to do anything, the natural instinct is for them to want to do it – and quite possibly to actually do it. At sixteen, I ran away from home because my mother forbid me to date this boy she didn’t like. If she had given me the freedom to make my own choice, I probably would have ended the relationship much sooner than I did. If you give your kids the space to make their own choices, there is a very good chance that they will set boundaries for themselves.
One of the most powerful parenting tools is asking the right questions that will incite your children to find good and healthy answers that fit for them. For example, if your child is contemplating what might be considered “risky behavior,” instead of forbidding your child, you might ask him/her:
“What do you think might be some positive and negative outcomes, if you ….?”
“If you removed peer pressure and you thought for yourself, what would you want to do?”
“What choice do you think supports you and your future self the most?”
Ask your child to imagine saying “yes” to the behavior, and following it through to an outcome so that he can future tense the behavior. Then ask him to imagine saying no, and do the same.
At that point, you can ask, “What feels better for you, and why?”
Even if your teen does partake in “risky behavior,” if you have been an awake and supportive parent, chances are he/she will speak with you openly, and it can become an opportunity to help your child grow, and make better choices in the future.
I will be the first to admit, I am a very radical parent, and it took a great deal of courage to parent in this new paradigm, but I now have three grown happy children who know their intrinsic worth and their power to consciously create their lives. Along the way, I discovered that in order to teach my children about their own worth and power, I had to know it and live it for myself. Inspired Parenting requires that you grow and develop every step of the way.
You might be concerned that if you allow your children to make their own choices and think for themselves, they will be out of control. As you may know, the Amish are one of the most conservative cultures on the planet. But did you know, when the Amish children reach the age of about fourteen, they are allowed and maybe even encouraged to go out into the world and experiment with life. This means that sex, drugs and rock and roll are all on their menu of possibilities. The point is, they must choose the Amish tradition for themselves and the only way that they can do so is if they have the free will to make that choice. The interesting part is that ninety percent of the kids consciously choose to go back into the Amish tradition.
As parents, we don’t own our children. We are guardians, mentors and cheerleaders.
Your Guide for Empowering Teens
Although this is geared for teens, much of this guidance is appropriate for children of younger ages as well.
1. Ask for Feedback:
It is likely that you don’t realize when your children feel judged or dis-respected. Therefore, it is an empowering idea to ask your children, “Please let me know if you feel judged or dis-respected by me.” When your child does give you feedback, don’t react – don’t justify or deny. Instead, pause and examine your previous words and attitude. If you are uncertain, ask your child for further feedback. It is not up to you to decide if your child feels judged.