Doing Something Right

As parents we are constantly second-guessing ourselves, questioning our methods, and wondering if we’re making the best decisions to impact the end result of our parenting goals, which is essentially to raise productive and successful adults who mirror our own values. Once our children reach adult age, there’s no cut-and-dry determination of success, no tangible analysis of our efforts, no ROI to examine. We have to rely on the little things to let us know that we’ve done something right.

My oldest child is just hitting adulthood, and I knew very early in his life that I was raising a very independent tiny human, and throughout the years this has always held true. As a 4-year-old he insisted on doing all day to day tasks alone, without assistance, and offering any only resulted in frustration and resistance. This has held true throughout his seventeen years on this earth, and it came as no surprise when he approached the subject of leaving home to live with a significant other at such a young age. I first moved them in with me, but due to size constraints and a number of other factors I eventually rented a small house close by for the both of them, with many rules and restrictions that included full transparency in their activities.

I am no fool to the fact that my expectations in that were far-fetched, and I have been repeatedly pleasantly surprised by the results, but a recent event caused me to really stop and appreciate what I had actually accomplished.

My son sent me a message that said “Hey, my SO and I are going Hiking at Roaring River, we’ll be on the Fire Tower trail, I won’t have service until we’re off the mountain but we’re going with friends” and then named both friends they were going with, gave me their Facebook pages, their parents numbers, and their cell numbers. He also shared his location with me at the beginning of the hike using a sharing service via messenger. He sent me a trail map with their intended path highlighted. He overshared way more information than I actually needed, but it did not go unappreciated. I instantly sent a screenshot to a group of friends to brag about how considerate of a child I’ve raised, and was met with unanimously similar congratulations of surprise stating “Wow, I’d have never been that considerate with my parents”.

Now, in part, the dedication to keeping me informed stems from my child’s own anxieties. I am his safe-haven, always fixing problems and offering solutions, and it’s very apparent to me that he not only trusts me but looks up to me as a source of comfort. But there is an aspect of the principals of Grateful Leadership at play here as well. By showing my child gratitude for his inclusion and information, it has encouraged him to continue to come to me for guidance, without fear of shame, or getting in trouble. We don’t admonish our kids in my home, we admonish their actions. I think it’s extremely important for a child to understand that he is not “bad” but his decisions can be. By offering gratitude in the moments where a child confides things or offers the information they may not have otherwise given, we create a habit that encourages them to keep us informed. By offering independence and information over demands and fears, we ensure that the positive reinforcement creates a culture of transparency in the child-parent relationship. I see many complaints from my friends about their kids never telling them things, or constantly wondering what their kids are up to, and I have to wonder how much of an impact gratitude and acknowledgment would have made in their lives. Because it’s becoming very clear to me as my child grows into adulthood, that it’s made a wonderful impact on ours.