Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Let's start a conversation about parenting....

I would like to start a conversation about teenagers and their natural inclination to experiment, take risks, try new things and to be secretive about it.  And how to parent them!  Please.

I have a 15.5 year old son.  He would love to be older and ride motorbikes, stay up later, watch restricted movies, drink, go out, be more independent, visit friends on his skateboard, walk to the beach on his own and the list goes on.  He has always wanted to be older than he is. He pushes the boundaries.  He doesn't accept his age, whatever that may be, and its limits.  He finds it difficult to accept "no" as an answer.

I watched an interview with Will Smith and Oprah once where he described his method of discipline as giving as much freedom as the child could handle.  So when they couldn't handle that level of freedom, it was reduced. Discipline is not so much about punishment as restriction, he says.  Watch below if you wish:

He has some amazing views on parenting.

I don't know what I am doing half the time when it comes to parenting and I often ask other parents on their take when I am faced with a problem but 2 things always seem to come up:

Firstly, there is no "right" way.  No-one has the answer.  No-one has discovered a fool-proof method or has the perfect solution we are all looking for.

Secondly, we are all scared as parents...of perceived dangers that will befall our children if we do not protect them, restrict them and discipline them.  Like allowing them to walk to the beach on their own or go to a party at a nightclub or play their first rugby match or go to boarding school or write their first exams (or any subsequent exams), or jump off a 3m high ledge into the dam or ride their bike to the shops or sleepover at a friends for the first time.  What makes me anxious is my fear that something can go wrong. And I won't be there to protect them, make it right for them.  That is at the base of all my parenting dilemmas.

Am I the only one?

I like what Brene Brown has discovered about parenting in her research.  As a result, she came up with this manifesto for parenting:

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