I want to continue my conversation on motherhood/parenting this week. I discussed why it’s important to stay grounded in who you are last week because I think that’s really important. Operating within who you truly are eliminates the distraction of feeling you need to find yourself, it’s easy to lose sight of that after having children. Today I want to talk a little about what I call rerouting. This applies to all parents. As I sat literally yesterday morning and reflected on how I’m doing as a parent. One thing really stood out to me, the best analogy I can think of is a navigation system. So I’ve decided to title this post rerouting.
I’ll start by saying this is a concept I piecemealed together to make sense of a few problems I’m having in parenting right now. I’ve done no research on this outside of analyzing my life and my parenting trying to come up with solutions that are effective in my home. So this is all trial and error, I don't want to seem as if I've read studies that support this, but hey maybe I'm onto something! With that being said, what is rerouting? Rerouting is the ability to turn on an internal navigation system that steps outside of the situation and keeps you focused on where you’re going. In other words, it focuses on the destination.
I find it challenging at times to bring myself to a place of understanding my sons choices and behavior. Particularly because he has awareness around the wrong and right things to do. While I know he’s very smart and has the sweetest heart, being an effective teacher to him as a parent has been challenging. Every child is different, growing up I didn’t have a fraction of the social intelligence that kids growing up these days have. So learning that old principals don’t necessarily apply in practice but can in concept is something I’m navigating through. Simple things like what respect is, how to treat people, or why school is important are tougher concepts to convey in today’s parenting landscape. The lines on these things have become blurred because just one click on the internet can lead our kids to the wrong ideas and thoughts of people free to post information online. YouTube videos about anything and everything, they see people being praised by drawing negative attention, so naturally when you then come behind them and tell them these things are wrong they struggle to understand it.
I’ve found that majority of the ill behaviors Chase has picked up I’ve allowed him to. Does that mean I’m a bad parent? No, it means that I have a responsibility to be paying attention and continually guiding him in the right direction. That’s my job. We as parents won’t always have the answers but we should always be doing the very best we can. The question I asked myself was how do I identify if I’m doing the best I can as a parent. I realized that answer was very simple. Look at my kids and be honest about where they are struggling. That’s where I need to do more work. As parents, I think we want to believe that our kids can overcome any situation so unintentionally we give them too much rope. For example, because I know that Chase is smart and does know the difference between right and wrong, I have to realize at times when I’m hard on him, I’m the one who is shaping his behaviors. On top of that, yelling or getting angry may not be how he receives or understands the impact of his behavior. That doesn’t mean I sacrifice discipline, it means it’s my job to figure out a delivery that’s effective for him. Now if you grew up old school like I did, this is a foreign concept. Our choices was listen or get popped, that simple, we didn’t have options. But he’s complex just as I am trying to make sense of the enormous amount of data he’s consuming on a day-to-day basis.
A child’s home environment has the biggest impact/influence on their lives. Most of how they relate to people and behave comes directly from the interactions inside the home. I use to get so angry at Chase (and still do but I’m able to channel it better now) when he misbehaved or didn’t listen, but now I take it personally after learning how to reroute. So let’s talk a little more about the rerouting concept and I’ll explain how I’m putting that into practice.
The following is the 3 step process I use to reroute problems and on the flip side effectively praise Chase to maintain balance.
- Accept his problem as my problem
- Replace frustration/anger with dialog (at all times)
- Track what’s effective/ineffective
- Acknowledgement of outstanding behavior (set that bar high)
- Identify the things Chase loves (meaningful to him no matter how big or small)
- Reward him on a large scale sparingly but maintain a positive dialog as he makes small strides
We want our children to be setting the bar high. So in my case scaling back and making him earn weekend trips or outings is what I am trying now over longer periods of time. For example instead of aiming for him to do well 1 week at a time, I extended that to 1 month at a time. My thought is that if I make him aware of what he’s trying to earn and minimize the frequency, he will think about this actions before carrying them out. If he can accomplish longer periods of time tuned in, it helps him understand the importance of discipline and consistency. On top of this being a natural struggle for Chase, adding co-parenting on top of all this can be really frustrating trying to even his behavior. I’ve written a post on co-parenting that digs a little into my thoughts on that. I’ll just say it’s imperative that co-parents are on the same page, especially when it comes to discipline, expectations, and clear communication.
Circling back to something I mentioned earlier that rerouting keeps in mind the destination. By destination I mean what it is you’re trying to achieve and figuring out the quickest way to get there. You don’t magically know exactly how you should navigate through situations when you become a parent, I know I’ve gotten it wrong many times to get it right. But what I am really conscious of is evaluating myself and my choices which basically is what my children are absorbing into their day-to-day operation as people.
When my children are entering adulthood, I want them to think before they act, respect people, do things with intention, understand the value of working for something as opposed to things being given, have an open heart, to stand soundly within who they are, to be careful but not fearful, to plant positive seeds to others, and above all have a strong relationship with God. These are all parts of the destination I’m parenting them towards. So what does all of this mean? I HAVE TO BE ALL OF THESE THINGS! In my day to day life I have a responsibility to teach them, the traditional way yes, but by living a life that reflects what I say, they need a verbal and visual concept. That's the key to making things stick. To say and do, we need to teach that concept early.
There are also 3 steps I take as a parent to help reroute behaviors I need to change about how I’m parenting. There is a growth component to this for us too! We have to change ourselves just as much as we’re trying to change and shape our children. Old habits die really hard is what I’ve learned about dynamics when it comes to parenting. In order to be on the same page, admitting that you’re handing things wrong to the other parent is at times difficult, especially co-parenting. In my case there has definitely been a lot of unnecessary competition that has effected the way Chase views things, which often leads to him worrying about the wrong things instead of focusing on what is important. These 3 things are relevant no matter if you are co-parenting or together.
- Parenting is not a competition. You’re not always right and neither are the choices you make as a parent. Allow yourself to accept that
- Find common ground on both of your parenting styles and lead with each other’s strengths. No parent is great at everything so bow down where you need to. It’s not about you, it’s about your children so no need to be prideful
- Be a role model!!! Ask yourself is how you talk about people or things the way you want your child to? Is how you behave the way you want them to? Is how you treat yourself the way you want them to? Is how you treat their other parent the way you want them to? These are the things you have to ask yourself. The things you do and say to your children shape them, so even little things like having discussions with them that you maybe should be getting confirmation from the other parent on, has an impact. They’re children and should keep that innocence as long as they can. Keep this in mind at all times
If I’m hitting these 3 points I believe I can say with confidence, I’m doing the best I can at parenting. All of these things are an everyday practice and that’s what I signed up for becoming a parent.
I hope this was helpful for some of you? I wrote these things for myself but thought it would be beneficial for someone if I shared!! We can do this parenting things and do it well, even when it’s tough, we got this!!! xx