Parenting is not easy. My sons teach me far more than I teach them, and I think I will be saying this for many years. They are also my greatest source of joy, and developing them into amazing human beings is by far the biggest accomplishment I am working on.
I believe we create independent children by giving them freedom to make choices, within limits of course, while providing them guidance, support, encouragement, and tons of love along the way. If we empower them to have some control over their lives, I believe they are more accountable for their actions and can feel more proud of themselves with what they achieve.
To start this summer, I decided to ask my sons for their thoughts about how they should spend their time. My goal was to figure out what they wanted to do, rather than just imposing my ideas on them, and to give us a framework to plan our time.
I gave them this simple list of questions to answer. To be honest, reading their responses moved me to tears. Sure, I was reminded of their interests, and I learned a few new ones that had developed, but I was also completely inspired by some of their comments and very proud of the people they are becoming.
Obviously, it goes without saying that communication is the key in any relationship and the ones we have with our children is no different. Giving them opportunities to express themselves with you will always succeed, and sometimes written communication can offer different insights than verbal alone. If you’re connecting with your children, start now.
I mentioned this exercise to a few parents in the practice and they asked for a copy, so here it is…