After coming off a 4-day weekend with my family, here are 10 things I am learning about myself and parenting.
As a Coach who focuses on helping parents and teens, I can be pretty hard on myself when it comes to my own parenting. It’s always much easier to look at a situation and help people increase their self-awareness and empathy so they can make better decisions next time. It’s another to actually be in the midst of parenting and see how I navigate my own emotions.
After coming off a 4-day weekend with my family, and at the risk of being completely vulnerable, here are 10 things I am learning about myself and parenting.
1. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. You experience imperfection from others on a daily basis, and guess what!? Others experience imperfection from you as well. You will make mistakes. And that’s ok. It’s what you do with the mistake that matters. Model humility with your kids and with others by saying, “I was wrong. I am sorry.” Learn to practice reflection and use your new insights to change how you respond to a similar situation the next time.
2. Perception is reality. Ooohh I really do not like those words. I had a boss right out of college that sang that tune almost daily. It made me batty. I hate to admit this, but “I was wrong. I am sorry.” Yes, perception is reality. And even when you have the best intentions, if your words or actions are perceived differently from how you intended, perception is reality. (ugh) The challenge is, we often don’t know when our words and actions are misperceived. Look for clues! Check for understanding.
3. There is nothing that builds a relationship better than being present and having open and honest dialog. Talking with your own teens and young adults can sometimes feel like trying to start a lawn mower with a droplet of gasoline. When the conversation finally turns over to a dull hum, be careful not to jump in with a ton of questions. Give space for your son/daughter to share what is on their mind and in their heart. Pay attention to metaphors. What are they really trying to tell you? Listen. Listen. Listen. And do not insert yourself…this is not about you.
4. Do NOT try to solve their problems. Why don’t we know this already? Or maybe we know this, but then why don’t we practice this? I don’t know a single person that likes to tell someone about a problem and then have the other person tell them how to solve it. We don’t like that! We just want to be heard. We want to process. We want affirmation. Practice that with your your teen/young adult kids. Sit on your hands as a reminder if you have to!
5. You may not always understand your child’s choices, but they are still their choices. I have to constantly remind myself that just because I birthed these kids, raised, fed, cared for, and provided for them, does not mean they are going to think the same way that I think. They will not always like what I like. And they definitely will not choose what I would choose. And that’s ok! In fact, it’s better than ok. It’s awesome!
6. We learn more from our mistakes and than our successes. This one is not necessarily something I am learning. I already get this because I have actually made my share of mistakes and have learned so much from them. What I have to remember is that my kids need to and will learn from their mistakes as well. That protective momma in me wants to jump in and save the day. But I know, and truly believe that the experience of making a mistake and learning from it builds true resilience.
7. Success is more than grades and income potential. To me, success is about discovering my unique giftings and talents and using them to fulfill a God-given purpose. Success includes having healthy relationships, a sense of purpose, an extra heaping of laughter, along with many opportunities to have fun. Encourage your kids to take some time to think about their own definition of success. What does it look like? What’s most important?
8. College students do not have to have it all figured out. Be patient. Yes, it’s okay if they don’t know exactly what they want to do with their life. And yes, you are making a big investment in hopes that they figure it out. And they will. When I think about all the successful people I know, not one knew exactly what they would be doing with their life when they were 18-22 years old. They figured it out…along the way. When I was 20 years old I wanted to be a Travel Agent. Need I say more?
9. Empathize with your kids. Sure college can be a lot of fun and exciting, but it can also be a very stressful time of life. I’ve heard parents say that the stress of life only increases after college. I want to use this time to empathize with my kids so that they learn to experience stress in a healthy way. I want to remember what the pressure of college and adulting felt like. What did I fear then? What was important? What did all of that feel like? Doing this helps me to connect with my kids. It also gives them a safe place to talk and share what is going on in their life.
10. Time flies. Yep, it passes by so quickly and yet I have to catch myself from running even faster out into the future. Instead, being present in the moment and not allowing myself to feel anxious about the future enables me to focus on what is important. Building relationships, memories, supporting and encouraging each other. I love my kids and there is absolutely nothing that they can do to make me any prouder of them than I already am!
With which of these do you most resonate? I would love to hear some of your own insights into parenting young adults!
About Kelli Schulte
Kelli is a Chicago-based consultant and coach helping individuals and organizations grow in emotional intelligence. With a natural curiosity for how people think and feel, she enjoys helping others increase self-awareness, build greater connections, and experience a healthier sense of well-being, in order to take positive steps forward.
In addition to being a wife and a mom of two young adults, she is also a certified coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF), a Preferred Partner with Six Seconds, Certified EQ Assessor and Practitioner, an EQ Area Network Leader with Six Seconds, a Panelist with the Six Seconds EQ Community Forum, and a regular contributor with 30Seconds.com.
Her combined experience working as a consultant with Fortune 100 organizations, and working with students and adults in church ministry gives her a unique coaching platform.