Can We Want too Much for Them?
By Barbara McRae, MCC
The majority of the parents I coach have this in common: they want their kids to have what’s “best.” The specifics vary, but can take the shape of: the BEST grades, schools, jobs, clothes, friends, mates, educators, bosses, cars, health, and/or opportunities.
Often it all boils down to having a perfect life. Oh, and we also want them to want what WE want for them! How are your goals for your teenagers working out for you? Is it possible that you might want too much for them?
The late Thomas Leonard, founder of the professional/personal coaching movement (first in US and then abroad), cautioned his coaches with these wise words:
“Never want more for your clients than they want for themselves.”
This statement is also true for parents with college students. As Parent Coaches, we know that we can only effect change when your son or daughter is fully committed to the goals you have for them.
Signs that you could be wanting too much from your teenage children:
Too Many Expectations
Situation: You get stuck in the future, wanting to anticipate all possible mistakes and protect your kids from any detours or hurts. You want to solve problems instead of collaboratively identify options.
Signs: Your child shuts you out. He or she feels criticized, stifled and/or overwhelmed since you’re coaching beyond his or her current level of ability and commitment.
Solution: Ask them about their dreams. Be open to adjusting your dreams in order to hold their visions for them. Keep in mind we really can’t know what’s absolutely “right” for another person.
Too Much Talking
Situation: You’re not seeing the progress you expected. You repeat yourself in order to “fix” it, but nothing changes. You get frustrated with your teens and lose confidence in your parenting abilities.
Signs: Your teenager progresses slowly, if at all. He or she acts out inappropriately in an effort to satisfy his/her inner need for independence.
Solution: Step into the role of coach. Listen with curiosity. If you’re thinking about your agenda when someone is speaking, you’re not listening. Ask insightful questions that generate a two-way conversation. This way you both feel energized instead of depleted.
Are you Doing too Much?
As parents, we are accustomed to doing things for our kids. When they don’t seem to be stepping up to the plate, we feel the need to step in. Don’t do it. Doing the work for your teenagers fosters dependency. When you take-over, you automatically take on the responsibility for the goal. You send the message that they don’t have to be responsible. The more you want something for them, the less room there is for your kids to “own” it.
Use a collaborative coaching model, such as our 7 Coach Your Teen to Success steps, to effectively discuss options. This will provide a good foundation from which to build. Then provide resources when your emerging adults are ready to receive them.
Campus Calm Parent/Teen Expert