Three Quick Parenting Tips

It’s the latest trend in parenting and it may be the best advice you can receive this year. Parenting is an incredibly difficult thing and most of us can use all the help we can get. So here are my three quick pieces of advice that can make a huge difference in your parenting technique:

1. CTFD: To see it in action, here are some sample parenting scenarios and how CTFD can be employed (via Huffington Post):

  • Worried your friend’s child has mastered the alphabet quicker than your child? Calm the f*ck down.
  • Scared you’re not imparting the wisdom your child will need to survive in school and beyond? Calm the f*ck down.
  • Concerned that you’re not the type of parent you thought you’d be? Calm the f*ck down.
  • Upset that your child doesn’t show interest in certain areas of learning? Calm the f*ck down.
  • Stressed that your child exhibits behavior in public you find embarrassing? Calm the f*ck down.

Understanding how much your children are affected by your energy is a key to wrestling back control in your home and life. Few of us want to admit this but we know that techniques like yelling do nothing but jack up the tension and make a stressful situation only worse. Strategists will tell us that if you want to control the argument you need to control the environment. It just makes good sense, therefore, that children are confronted with collected calm and self-control. Children are going to emulate your stress level and imitate your energy so quit the yelling, the drama, and the tears. Crank down the intensity and control your emotions when you are engaging an upset child. Calm energy creates calm energy – don’t forget that.

2. Don’t Get Sucked In: Building on the idea of calm energy it is critical to understand how tempting it can be to become emotionally involved. When we are drawn into the stress of an argument we lose our objectivity and begin reacting, not responding rationally. Recently my fifteen year old marched up to me with an emotional point to make. He proceeded to beak off about something he was mad about, seeking to engage me. He was out of line and hoping for a reaction so I didn’t give him one. It is amazing how frustrated a teenager can become when you are smiling at him but ignoring his anger. After a minute or two of trying to get a rise out of me he acted disgusted, shook his head, and said, “I’m just going to go ask mom”.

It’s very hard to argue with someone who refuses to be sucked in.

3. Stop Micromanaging Your Teenagers. Parenting is about learning to let go, one argument at a time. There are a million things you could try to fix on your teen but it is crucial that you don’t fight every fight, no matter how tempting. Parents of teens (and for some reason more moms than dads) often struggle when their obnoxious pimple factory informs them that every other teen in Canada gets to go to bed at a certain time and they should too. When is it the right time to let them see a Restricted movie? What is with all the sleep-overs? Should you let them wander the streets at night? What video games are appropriate? How old should they be before they can go to parties? or date? or drink?

It never feels like the right time to let go. Kids are ridiculously stupid and will undoubtedly make the same big mistakes you did unless you steer them constantly.

My dad once gave me some great advice about parenting and since he was a great parent, I thought I should probably listen. He told me to stop micromanaging the kids. He warned me that if I exasperate the boys with too many rules and too rigid of enforcement that they would grow frustrated and rebel. It was very good advice. I am therefore forced, because of this sage wisdom, to pick my battles and let a lot of things go. This is difficult to do if you are the kind of person who appreciates rules or has difficulty with change. As my dad reminded me, “You can win the battle but lose the war”. I try to remember this as I wade through the fallout zone which used to be his bedroom floor.

Three quick things – drop the energy level, don’t let it get personal, pick your battles; easy to understand and virtually impossible to follow without effort. I have found that change, real change, takes far longer than we initially thought and is usually much harder to accomplish. Most people do not really change because change is very hard and the cost of growth is enormously high. Real growth doesn’t happen in a week, or even a year.

  • Ctfd (scott-williams.ca)

4 thoughts on “Three Quick Parenting Tips

  1. Great advice; Pick your battles. I was obsessively neat and clean so I made a deal that I would not bitch about his room as long as he didn’t leave his shit all over the house. He could do anything he wanted with his hair ( it grows back) and I got say on body piercing and tattoos. Now as an adult his place is always neat and clean, even his bedroom. ( he actually finds it hard to find roommates because they are all slobs) and 70% of his body is tattooed. You can’t win them all. Lol

  2. “Real growth doesn’t happen in a week,or even a year”.
    Is it possible to patent that? This is the message I convey to survivors of abuse, about the disordered one’s ‘changes’. But it’s also a message I convey to them about themselves. REAL change takes a long, long, LONG time.

    Great advice about parenting too. My kids are all grown now, but I see the value in each point you’ve made here and oh boy the memories! I’m glad the teen years are over though. Seriously.

  3. ‘Ctfd’ is a good mantra for a lot of things, well everything, actually. That reactive, emotionally charged state is pretty much useless for responding well to situations, people, ourselves. I always like when you end these articles saying real change is harder than we think and takes a lot longer. Kind of like being a kid stuck in the back seat of hot car restlessly waiting to get to the vacation destination, protesting, ‘are we theeeeeere yet’. It’s a long, long journey.

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