Parenting Part 1 of 5

The Foundation

Knowing what a child goes through, you can gracefully help your child learn how to love, change and grow.

What is your parenting mindset? Our mindset mainly comes from the experience of being raised by our parents. But regardless of your childhood experiences whether it was good, bad or ugly, it does not limit you as a parent. You can decide to raise your child differently. The foundation is how do you see your role, responsibilities and tasks as a parent? The list of roles, tasks and responsibilities is overwhelming. What you need is an operational strategy. Simply a clear and easy basic recipe that explains how to put it all together. And one that you can adjust to your taste and sensibilities.

The parenting posts are a series about a Love Change Grow strategy for parents to help them raise great kids. Maybe you are busy or not thought about an approach to raising your kids. Perhaps you didn’t have a great upbringing and don’t know where to start. This is a basic recipe for raising great kids. It’s simple, straight-forward, without a bunch of psychological mumbo jumbo, and yet deeply rooted in common sense and a bit of psychology. The fact is, you already have most of the ingredients that you need. And you will find there are practical skills that you can do immediately regardless of your child’s age.

Think of this as a basic recipe for pizza. In fact, you can read this recipe in less time than it takes to make and bake a homemade pizza. It will also cost less than takeout pizza while giving you a lifetime of enjoyment. A recipe is the operational strategy a list of what ingredients, how much, how and when to mix them together, at what temperature and how long to bake. And tips of how to serve it up!

This parenting series provides and outlines an intuitive framework, strategy and process to help you raise happy, confident and competent children as they become young adults. It is relatively simple, but not necessarily easy and at times messy. It takes time and effort but is very doable. It is up to you to decide the toppings, i.e., the values, morals and ingredients that are important to you, your child and family.

Intent and Purpose:

The intent and purpose are to present information and guidance for your consideration. These concepts can directly and immediately help you, your children, family and community. This is the stuff I wish I’d had known as a wayward teen, a new father and in my early career as a crisis consultant. You are a sovereign individual and can discern what you want, need and what is useful for you and your kids.

The big picture is first to provide some simple intuitive concepts. Then quickly zero in to make things happen for you and your child. There are examples of scripts for interacting with your child from being a toddler to their mid-late 20’s. This is an opportunity for generational change. Be the parent that you wish you would have had. But more important, the parent that your kids will appreciate and subsequently will base their parenting on for your grandkids. Make no mistake, it begins with you.


Context is important. It’s useful to understand the background of any writer, creator, presenter, etc. Gaining some insight lends to sorting out what might apply to your situation.

I was an orphan, adopted and raised in tiny rural mid-west farming communities during the 1960-70’s. Blessed with the opportunity to raise kids. I was terrified. I never thought of myself as parent material because of being a hellion. Surely my parents had sleepless nights. Frequently, I did not follow rules or expectations, running whereabouts unknown, being essentially a juvenile delinquent and eventually dropping out of high school. My parents’ only recourse was the statement I remember fondly. “I guess you are going to learn. The question is, what and how are you going to learn it?” Well, I did some learning in the school of experience, ouch … lol! Life is an interesting journey. I ended up with a master’s degree in counseling psychology, a career in mental health (MH) and a father of three. Becoming a father threw me into the deep end of the pool. I did not want my kids to become the demon I was. As a crisis consultant in public MH, I was a witness to the wreckage of poor parenting. The wreckage was a combination of the “lack of” healthy role models, knowledge, skills and failure to recognize the role and task of being a parent. In mental health, the elephant in the room is the lack of access to simple, commonsense ways of presenting ideas that are easily accessible and applicable to real folks and real life.

The news reports the crisis’ in families; youth feeling lost without meaning, purpose, motivation or opportunities. There is an epidemic of suicides, drug abuse, violence and other horrifying events. It’s a mess. Attributing blame and shame to this hot mess is not helpful. When lost, it’s important to stop, figure out where you are and the key is to pull out the map/recipe/strategy to orient yourself.

The Three Forces: Love, Change and Grow.

Love, passion and joy is the greatest force in the universe. It is superior because it is inspirational. Would you rather get chased all over hell by your fears, demons and anxieties? Only to be motivated to run faster so you don’t get caught! Or you could choose to be inspired, chasing your love, passions and joy?

Change happens whether we love it or fear it. When inspired to follow our love, passions and joy. Change is a growth opportunity. Understanding the basic force that “all things change” is a huge realization. There are only two forces at play. Fear and love that cycles in a dynamic ebb and flow pattern that creates change, challenges and opportunities. Without change, there would be nothing to challenge us. There would be no curiosity or wonder; nothing new to learn, experience or to explore.

Obviously, life is a dynamic change. Life provides puzzles or challenges, which are opportunities to change, discover, learn and grow. Life flows in cycles; there is an ebb and flow. Knowing this enables you to maintain a position of relaxed attention and going with the flow. But how or where do changes happen? Change happens where and when there is space. WHAT! For change to happen, there needs to be space and time or allowance for it to happen. If everything; activities, schedules, etc. are so compacted or filled; change has brief or very little opportunities to blossom. Think back to memories were there was an experience of sudden insight, learning, revelation or a epiphany. Sudden change happens when there is space, a few minutes of quietness or perhaps being outside doing nothing or just going for a walk or playing. In gardening, plants need space to grow. They need space for air flow and sunlight. The soil needs to be loose enough so that water can seep in, where there are pockets of air and roots can penetrate and extend; growing deep. It’s the same thing for change to happen. If things are so compacted, tight and closed there is very little opportunity for change to happen. There is no space for new things to seep in.

Change is also movement. A sign of change is when there is movement. Dynamic interacting forces move and change. If there is little movement and space to move, there is only minor change and it takes a long time. An elemental example is a rock, boulder size. The boulder is relatively solid, basically it just sits there and does not move. Over many years because of the erosion of wind, water and heat/freezing it will eventually change. Compared to air; with air, where it is mostly space, the weather or clouds are in a state of constant and rapid change. It is not reasonable to be immovable or stubborn as a rock nor as fickle as the wind. Change as space, time and movement is something to be aware of and consider. Parents you are providing a garden for your children to grow.

Gardening Metaphor: 

Gardening provides a simple, intuitive and elegant metaphor that guides us in navigating change while chasing our love, passions and joy. Gardening is a metaphor of growth. Growth occurs in cycles; there is spring, summer, fall and winter. It contains a framework for understanding process change that clues us to the tasks of what to do and when. It is simple, accessible, scalable and easily understood. It also incorporated the ideals of resilience, sustainability and organic growth. We change in cycles and seasons. In life we have many gardens: projects, relationships, careers, family, and more. These are the “Gardens of the Soul.”

Gardening is simply yet deep model, metaphor or a strategy. In psychological terms, it is a pattern. Specifically, it is a repeating pattern or fractal that has a cyclical movement that is perennial. It is ongoing open-ended and emergent, blooming and discovering. Being aware of this pattern allows for several things. It enables predictability or expectation. It provides a reference for what season you are in and what are the tasks to be done in each season. Knowing this pattern with its seasons relieves much of the stress, anxiety and fear of the unknown. This knowledge enables a person to have a good idea of where they are, what they can do and what to expect… it provides opportunities!

Many people have little idea of strategic change. They lack a clear understanding of the process of change and growth. Presume, we are the garden, the gardener and the tomato plant in the garden. Each season requires a different task. Spring involves germination and planting. It is about planning, preparation, i.e., gathering knowledge, tools and resources. Summer is about establishing a daily routine of working in the garden. It is essentially being the gardener/servant and establishing the routine of tending the garden. In the fall, we harvest the fruit of our labor. However, it requires us to decide which fruit is ripe and what to do with it. Winter is the season of introspection. It is going inside and working with the GARDENER. It’s a time of evaluation, self-reflection, renewal and rebirth. Many find winter is uncomfortable. It can be dark with fear, anxiety and loss of direction. But winter is essential. Once we understand the meaning, purpose and tasks of winter, it is a wonder filled season for renewal, dreaming of new gardens and the excited anticipation of germinating seeds for the coming growing season.

Change, crisis and opportunity are entangled. Understanding how to navigate change, we can actualize opportunities for growth. The difference between crisis versus opportunity is mindset. If you have a map, you can navigate where you want to go. If not, you can easily become lost, which can become a crisis. Crisis is when you don’t expect or want to change and you don’t know what to do. Versus opportunity is when you can anticipate, see and have a good idea of what you want to do.

There are three principles that enable practical implementation of a strategy. First, is there is a frame-of-reference that offers hope and forward movement. Second, to establish a process that is easily understood, applicable and predictable. Last, to inspire and motivate implementation or execution toward making changes. Which is: Love inspires motivation. Change is inevitable and provides opportunities for change. And gardening is an intuitive metaphor that guides the strategic execution of actualizing growth.

The Garden:

We, our kids and community are in part products of our environment. It is helpful to survey the environment/garden that they are in. Ask what in the garden supports or inhibits their healthy growth. Some of this will require that you are attentive; quick to discern and to eliminate weeds and toxic influences. Gardens that are diverse, interactive, dynamic and collaborative are healthy. There are a host of collaborators, e.g., bees, birds, worms, insects, fungi, etc. that are part of a larger ecology.

The Gardener:

You are the gardener. You are working with the garden and you are the primary influence that co-creates the garden and what is grown. This influence comes as what you expose, provide and how you interact with your child. Make no mistake, your kids model their understanding based on their experience. Thus, you as their parent have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility that will influence your child for the rest of their life . And likely will for your grandkids and great grandchildren. This is not to scare you, but to convey excitement about the opportunity that you can teach your children about gardening. How the can grow wonderful gardens in their life.

You want to expose them to sunshine, to love and grow, quiet/peaceful times to rest and a bit crap/fertilizer to challenge them to become resourceful, stronger, creative and learn that despite the crap that they can flourish, i.e., be resilient. And then there are the bees that pollinate their creativity and give them new puzzles and ideas.

Tomato Plant:

The tomato plant is inherently perfect. Given a healthy environment and mindful gardener. It will grow to the best of its ability and produce wonderful fruit and attain its full potential if it has access to sunshine, water, fertilizer, space and support. We don’t grow tomatoes. Tomatoes grow themselves. The gardener just tries to provide the conditions, supplements, protection, structure and support. The gardener/parent attends to them so that they can grow well. This is the same case with children.

Foundations of Parenthood:

Parents, moms and dads; your kids are already perfect! You are just helping another human grow into and actualize their inherent meaning, purpose and potentials. You are helping your child by providing a healthy environment, a few tricks to live well and lots of love. Realize what you give to them is what is returned. You reap what you sow. You will teach your kids’ lessons and skills that you have learned. And they, in return will provide opportunities for you to become more than you ever imagined possible. There will be times when it seems all there is a pile of crap. At first this pile will smell ripe, however with a bit of time and grace, the pile will become a gold mine of fertilizer. You will need “serenity to accept the things that you cannot change, the courage to change the things that can be changed and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Basically, parents are teachers/gardeners/role models for their kids. Be mindful of what you are showing, growing and teaching. Kids don’t know any better than what we expose them to. Kids learn and copy what they see, hear and how they are treated. It is essential for you to understand this. As you become more aware of your behaviors, what you say, what you show, how you interact and treat your child, you will have a greater positive influence on them. This is especially true during the first 7-10 years of their life. Your parental influence will continue, but you will also need to change your tactics according to their experiences and developmental stages as they take on more responsibility for their own self-determination/actualization. The first 28 years of their life are when you have the influence and opportunity to guide them. The first 7-10 year are your the prime opportunity. By their teens they are largely responsible to develop their passions and learn about how to competently step into living their life. Their full capacity occurs in their mid to late twenties and your parenting tasks are largely done.

Relationship with your child is the secret. Lesser is the “what, when, where, how or why.” It’s your relationship with them. Relationship is the conduit or connection to pass along the what, when, where, how and why. Without the connection (relationship) it’s very difficult. Yet, if you have good connection, it is much easier, efficient and clear. Also this relationship needs to be a two-way connection. Using a telephone metaphor: If the connection is poor, it’s difficult. The importance of relationship can not be overstated. Relationship is primary!

Five Secret Opportunities:

The first secret opportunity for a parent to influence their child is because “kids doesn’t know any better.” Therefore, the parent sets the routine expectations and is really just instructing them how to do it. The second secret is that kids (really all of us) need and like routine and expectations because then we know what to expect, the rules of the game and how life works. Structure and predictability help us function in life. Parents needs to convey clear expectations and be consistent with both expectations and the routine or structure. The third secret is to start age-appropriate structure, routines and expectations as early as possible. The fourth secret is that kids are scary smart. They pick up and learn things quickly. The challenge is to be several steps ahead while also being present to seize the current moment of opportunity. Remember that you are their role model upon which they will base their experience of their life. To take advantage of these opportunities requires your presence of mind. Specifically, you will need to see challenges as opportunities. This requires your faith, courage and understanding. Challenges are opportunities for your children to develop a sense of self-respect, confidence, competence and agency (i.e., knowledge, skills and execution). And the fifth secret opportunity is that your kids will teach you and get you to do things that you never imagined; so, enjoy the adventure.

You Got This!

Because you are reading this. You are already 70% there. The first 50% is just recognizing that you want more for your kids, yourself and your family. Another 20% is because you are curious and have taken action. So, the rest of this is pretty simple, not necessarily easy, but very doable. By the end of this short series, you will be much more comfortable and know “I got this!” This is because you will know and understand basic principles, understand the developmental tasks that a child goes through. And will have practical knowledge, skills, tools and a strategy to raise a great kid. So, the only thing left is to execute. However, only you will know what, when and how to execute according to what is best for you, your family and child.

The Little Big Bits:

Love is the greatest force in the universe. This is a huge, yet a simple and elegant statement. Of course, you love your kids and only want the best for them. It is important to zoom in and clarify and define what is to be done here. First is just to love your kid. Be kind and tell them every day, no matter what they did, how you feel or what happened. “Hey kiddo, I love you.” They should hear this the first thing in the morning, the last thing before sleep and any other time, e.g., leaving for school, or when they are having a tough issue or event.

You need to encourage their development of love, i.e., their interest, curiosity and agency (more in just a bit). Observe what, when and how. Make a positive comments when they are being gracious and loving. Complement the things that you want to encourage. Their love will often show up as an interest, curiosity, focus, attention and time spent. This will clue you into their passion. Once you have an idea, you can further develop this passion by asking them questions. Questions and statements like, “wow that is really cool, or I didn’t know that…” or I wonder why, how, when; ask them about it. Have them be creative and make up an imaginative story. Basically, they are interested in something and thus you are also showing them you are also interested, but you are leaving it open so that they can further wonder. Do thinks such as an adventure to a museum, soccer game or library so that they can find out more. Encourage them to be curious and investigate further on their own. In short, acknowledge and reward the things you want them to do. The things they do you that you don’t want them to do, downplay it, divert their focus or view it as a learning opportunity to do differently. And this is by asking them questions. Ultimately, this will help them develop the capacity for self-discipline and self-determination. There are very few times when it’s the end of the world. There is always tomorrow. And tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity. Take a deep breath, do what you can do today. Tomorrow will be different.

Learning Style and Capacity

Be mindful of their capacity and their style of learning. Potential is what a child might be able to do. Capacity is built and expanded by exposure, repetition and challenge. It like building up muscles. Once a child has the muscles they have ability. If your child knows how and does something new, this builds competence. And competence leads to confidence. Confidence without first gaining competence is just an illusion.

Meanwhile, they also develop their learning style. Basically, there are Doers, Observers and Rule Followers. But these learning styles are also based on capacity. For instance, a toddler is more about direct experiences (doers) and they do a lot. We often observe that children model or copy what they see. Observers tend to be a bit reserved and mildly anxious. They will be on the edge watching and seeing if they can do it. And if all seems good, then they will jump in. And as they do more, they will progress in their ability. Where as rule followers is a higher ordered cognitive task that requires a level of vocabulary, of understanding how things work/function and why it is done (rules). They will ask questions, listen, timidly be involved yet initially want reassurance and be told that they are doing it right or reference some authority (the rules). And once they understand the rules, will expect themselves and others to know and abide by the rules. All of this is simply the progression of “see one, do one, teach one and be one.” Or another way to view this is a “what, how and why” progression of learning. Every child does some of each. As your child grows, look for what is your child’s predominate way they learn and how it changes as they grow. Remember, parents, you are their first and primary role model. If your are aware of their strengths and challenges then you can leverage their strengths and notice opportunities for them to overcome their challenges.

A simple psychological research example of learning, discipline and hope (essentially the resilience concept) is Curt Richter’s Rat study. See links below.

The “HOPE” Experiment : | penpenny

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In a nutshell, you now have the essential concepts to raise a great kid and be an exceptional parent. There are only a few things you need to add: your time, attention, effort/energy and values. And only you can do this with your child. Establishing a routine or habit of reading, curiosity and agency provides structure and predictability. They will develop a sense of influence and control of their life. A therapist, psychologist, teacher, another family member, friend can offer you their perspectives, bits of advice, etc. But they cannot do it for you. However, there is one more piece of information, while not essential, will be of significant strategic benefit.

Development in 7 Year Periods

Let’s start with a simple understanding of the developmental view of a person. The primary focus is on the first 28 years, divided in to four 7-year periods. Each 7-year period has a spring, summer, fall and winter season. The spring is essentially new and uncomfortable; learning/growing something new. Summer is the learning by doing or practicing. Fall is when they get it; they are confident and competent. They have developed a fair amount of fluency and can handle what is thrown at them. Winter is the phase when they often become bored and restless; looking for a new challenge. It is essentially evaluating their progress, gaining a new awareness of a new sense of self or agency and then imagining it. The seven years are a rough estimate but in the ballpark. The first 28 years is the spring of a person’s life. It helps to prepare a person for the rest of their life.

Acorn Theory:

An interesting place to start the discussion of developmental stages is James Hillman’s “Soul’s Code” (1997). Hillman proposes the “Acorn Theory.” It is the idea that a person has a unique destiny, imperative or purpose. 

“The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling” outlines what he calls the “acorn theory” of the soul. The theory states that all people already hold the potential for the unique possibilities inside themselves, much as an acorn holds the pattern for an oak tree. The book describes how a unique, individual energy of the soul is contained within each human being, displayed throughout their lifetime and shown in their calling and life’s work when it is fully actualized.

Hillman argues against the “nature and nurture” explanations of individual growth, suggesting a third kind of energy, the individual soul is responsible for much of individual character, aspiration and achievement. He also argues against other environmental and external factors as being the sole determinants of individual growth, including the parental fallacy, dominant in psychoanalysis, whereby our parents are seen as crucial in determining who we are by supplying us with genetic material, conditioning, and behavioral patterns. While acknowledging the importance of external factors in the blossoming of the seed, he argues against attributing all of human individuality, character and achievement to these factors. The book suggests reconnection with the third, superior factor, in discovering our individual nature and in determining who we are and our life’s calling.

Hillman’s idea is that a person searches for his or her own acorn/self. Winter’s process of introspection, the search for existential meaning, discovering a seed that has germinated and taken root. This is much like Hillman’s notion of growing down or “rooting in the earth” and fits well with the metaphor of gardens of the soul. Many parents have an inkling of what their child may become. And as a father of 3 adult children who are now in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s (yes, one in each decade…30 years of child raising…CRAZY). It has been interesting and wildly fun to see where they have planted themselves and what they have become.

Three Questions in Discovering the Acorn:

The place to start is by pondering these questions. It is an adventure in which to discover the answers. They are simple questions but resonate deeply. The three questions are: Who am I? What is my passion or purpose? And what am I to do about it? The answers to these three questions help to orient, ground and give meaning to your child’s growth. Parents pay attention and listen. You might hear reference to these questions as statements that your young child makes. Like, I want to be a musician, doctor, I just love horses, music, poetry, painting, fixing things, etc. However, the formalized questions do not emerge until the mid/older teens and have the cognitive ability to self-reflect and introspect. In older teens, it will show as teen angst in why am I here? Which is really the initial search for meaning and purpose?

Developmental Tasks:

An easy way to think of development is in terms of 7-year chunks of time. In each developmental stage, there is a different task to accomplish. The first three developmental stages are heavily influenced by the child’s environment. Subsequently, parents are instrumental in these first three stages of development. The child’s parental environment and climate help the child develop the knowledge, skills, strategy and opportunities to pursue their life’s calling. When viewed over a lifetime, the parental influence is brief but critical. There are many aspects to the parent-child interactions.

Two parental aspects:

However, two aspects are worth noting. First, is the “relationship.”  The parent’s view of their relationship to their child sets the tone or quality of how a child learns to learn or develops. The question is how do you see your primary role in the relationship with your child and in helping them to discover and grow their acorn? For example, what is your approach or style? Is it laissez-faire, micro managed, open and exploring, directed, instructional, warm etc.? Different kids will respond differently to different styles and there are pros and cons to each style. The trick is to match your parenting style to your kid’s learning and developmental style. Matching is just something to be aware of and consider that may make parenting relationship easier or more difficult. Of course, it is best to find a dynamic balance that includes measured opportunities and predictable structure.

The second central aspect is to understand that “structure and consistency lead to predictability.”  Children want to make sense of their world, to know how to behave, to take part and navigate their world. Thus, the parent that establishes a meaningful and structured environment which is consistent and with clear expectations, helps a child to learn how to respond to their environment and thus manage their own behavior. Kids may complain about structure or routine; that it is the same old boring thing. But they need this, because it makes their life predictable. For example, if the child’s family life and environment is chaotic and unpredictable, what will be the child’s mode of operation or their behavior? The child will respond in one of several ways. Perhaps their response is anxious or unsure. They feel like they are walking on eggshells and unsure how to respond. Perhaps the child determines it does not matter what they do, they will get yelled at, anyway. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it does not. It is a gamble, so they might as well do whatever they want. If there is no structure, consistency or predictability; the environment does not support consistent feedback or learning how to navigate effectively nor is consistent/predictable. The child is at a loss of how to orient, plan and execute meaningfully.

Testing: One, two, three…testing, testing.

There will always be tests. Sometimes you recognize it is a test. Other times it’s retrospectively recognized as a test. It is usually around the ideas of expectations and predictability. It helps to set up and be clear about your expectations and the consequences. Having clear boundaries and rules helps your child to learn and how to play the game. There are several tricks to make this work. The first is to be consistent with your expectations, boundaries and consequences; these are the rules. This way your child can expect or predict their best course of action; you are essentially helping them to develop strategies. Second, is when the test happens, don’t get upset, but handle the situation in a calm, quick and no non-sense manner. It’s like being a home plate umpire in a baseball game. First strike, pay attention. Second strike could be a good effort. Or a foul ball; at least they are trying. Foul balls are good, close and great attempt. Third strike, that is the limit. They are out until the next time at bat. Despite the kid being upset that they struck out, the umpire/coach/parent waits until after they have calmed down, again merely notes some tips/coaching and expectations or boundary. There is really no need to restate the consequences. They are aware of them. Perhaps, the better thing to do is ask them what piece they are missing (self-evaluation) and what they can do better next time (self-improvement). And tell that you love them.

For example, a toddler in a grocery or toy or store. We’ve all been there or have seen it. They see some candy or toy that they want and when the parent says no; the toddler throws a scene. One of the best things to do is to pick up the toddler and calmly walkout to the car. Of course, this is easier with two parents shopping. But you can also note to the store staff that you will be back in a few minutes. This happened with all three of my children. Fortunately, I was expecting this, and it only happened once or twice and my toddler learned that throwing a fit would not get them what they wanted. This is also similar to older children as a power struggle. You merely re-state your limit or expectation and then just calmly walk away. This then puts the ball in their court and they have the decision to abide or ignore. However, because of their lack of where-with-all, capacity or resources they cannot manage a reasonable course of action. An example of this is: “I don’t like you or this is unfair; I am going to run away.” Your parent’s response is a calm “oh ok.” Don’t argue, beg them to stay, don’t pack their bags; just go about your usual business. But position where you can keep an inconspicuous eye on them and calmly wait. And when they return or get back in the car, say nothing for a while. This time of silence is for them to think and feel. It is a time-out. Then ask them what they were upset about or what they could do next time and/or what did they learn?

Tests during the 7-14-year period, it’s more about pulling shenanigans in front of their peers as a leverage to get you to do things. Your kid mistakenly presumes that you will cave into the (their) peer pressure so that you can be the cool/rad dad or mom. Again, you calmly state, “let’s go” and you calmly walk away and even perhaps get in the car and drive away. What your kid discovers is that their peers do not affect you and that they are now left up to their own wits. Of course, this is not a good look for them with their peers. And again, when you see them, you have a calm conversation about what happened. However, by calmly listening, often what you will find out there was some peer social drama. And this will be an opportunity to get a glimpse into what is happening with the peer group. And again, you ask them why do you think the peer drama is happening and what they might do about it. Which is really an invitation for a discussion for your kid to learn about peer social interactions.

During the 14-21-year period, it can be a bit of a hot mess. But in reality, it’s about a struggle for freedom but not yet having the mental or cognitive resources of life skills. They don’t quite have the ability for responsibly to make it happen. It is a battle with themselves. For example, my daughter the ski bum at age 15, came to me in October and asked me for a loan so that she could get her season’s pass. Noting that she did not save enough money. I calmly noted that the agreement since 6th grade was that she earned and budgeted enough money for her pass. I noted I would not loan her the money. Well, she was mad as a hornet and had a few choice words. To which I merely stated that she was a smart girl and would figure something out. She stomped away and did not talk to me for a few days. About a week later, she came in and proudly stated that she had gotten her season’s pass. I asked how did she do that? Her reply was that she had gotten a job at the resort as a ski and snowboard instructor for the season and got her pass. “Great, I knew you would figure something out.” Of course, she then informed me I would have to drive her up to the hill every Saturday and Sunday. And my immediate reply was “oh no, you have plenty of friends and can catch a ride with them when I’m not going.” If I remember correctly, she skied about 70 days during her sophomore year of high school.

There will be tests. How many will be determined by how you have set up expectations, consistency, predictability and your responses during earlier tests. If you are consistent in a calm and matter-of-fact response and then follow up with instructive questions and positive encouragement, they will learn fairly quickly. Remember reward the things and behaviors they are doing well. And set clear boundaries and consequences of what will happen if the boundaries are crossed or poor behaviors continue. Be mindful of what and be prepared to institute the consequences (because if you do not execute the consequences, your boundaries will be meaningless). Side note: Just know that their testing may show that they are ready for bigger lessons and/or perhaps their learning style does not match your parenting or guiding/teaching style.

Basically, the first four developmental stages are:

A simple view of the developmental perspective. The primary focus will be on the first 28 years, divided into 7-year periods. A person’s first 7 years are about establishing a core sense of themself, their world and their future. The second 7 years is about socialization, normalization and fluency. Which includes the dynamics of peer communication, emotional fluency, social agency and physical agility. The third is about discovering who they are, their passions and learning skills to make things happen, i.e., self-efficacy, fluency and agency. Last, the 20’s are about making the commitment to themselves. It’s the down and dirty; the grit of taking responsibility and ownership to make it happen.

The remaining parenting post are thoughts about developmental model, elementary school age children, teens and young adults. For elementary children, it’s about learning the dynamics and relationships within the context of the social environment of peers. And their developing physical and mental agility of becoming fluent, flexible and flow. And as a teen it’s more about frontal lobe and developing their executive functioning of planning, execution and contingency. And them to develop and participating in their “Wellness Routine.” The goal is you want your child to become a young adult who is happy, motivated, curious, competent, confident and an able member of their community. Basically, you have about a 21-year opportunity to help them. Having and understanding the developmental view provides glimpses of the what, when and how as your child grows. It helps you to discover the opportunities for more fun, less expense, less fear/anxieties so that you can enjoy the adventures in parenting. The best time to start, is Now!

Stay tune; there are 4 more posts about parenting presented in a developmental structure. And 3 additional post of thoughts concerning education.

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Published by Love Change Grow LLC

Counselor and crisis consultant of 25 years. Providing education about how to navigate change.

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