My name is Scott Gibbens. I am guest blogging for my wife Dana today with a few thoughts on parenting.
When it comes to preschoolers, I don’t have the same expertise that my wife has. I do have many years of parenting experience as the father of four. Something I saw a few nights ago set off a chain of thoughts.
I was walking in our neighborhood and I saw a young dad helping his little boy ride a bike. As a truck rounded the corner, dad grabbed the handle bars firmly to prevent his little boy from moving. I could almost feel the parental instinct myself as I walked by.
Seeing this reminded me of when my kids were that age, wanting to always protect them from harm. Being ready to intervene at the slightest sign of danger. That’s what a good parent does, right?
Of course, but at some point we need to start letting go. No, I’m not suggesting that the father should have let go of the bike. It’s more of a mindset as our kids grow older. It’s somewhat of a cruel irony that our role as parents is to raise up our children so they can eventually leave us.
The earlier we start to let go, the easier it will be when the time comes. It’s a process that usually starts with preschool, leaving them for the first time. Then comes the first school bus, ride, the field trips, sleepovers at a friends house, learning to drive and so on.
My daughters are in their 20’s I’ve watched both of them grow up and leave. It was hard. When they were little, it felt as if they’d always be little, looking back, I wonder how did it go by so quickly?
Now I’m watching my sons grow up, time is going faster the older I get. My perspective today is different than it was 26 years ago when I first became a parent. So what have I learned?
Don’t sweat the small stuff
It’s easy to say that now, but I remember thoughts I had when my kids were young. The first time a kid was mean to my daughter in kindergarten, I wanted to find him and tell him to knock it off, it was so upsetting. When their toys would break I was quick to fix them, thinking the world would end if I didn’t.
Things will happen to our kids that are outside of our control. It’s important to let them fight their own battles sometimes and it’s not easy to know when to draw the line. If it’s minor then let it go, if it’s outright bullying then get involved.
Choose your battles
This is a tough one but needs to be addressed. There will always be battles, some larger than others. We need to let our kids make a bad decision sometimes and suffer the consequences that follow. As long as it does not endanger them or others.
I’ve let my youngest son buy things on the internet with his own money that I knew would not last more than a few days. After offering my advice, he still wanted to buy it and sure enough it was junk. I hated to see him disappointed but how else will he learn?
I know some parents may scoff at this idea. Their mindset is “I am the parent and what I say goes.” I also see the resentment growing in their children with rebellion brewing underneath. I want my kids to obey me because they love and respect me, not because of the title of dad.
Don’t negotiate – do give and take
I’ve been in business for many years and have met some sharp negotiators, but I feel the best negotiators are kids. Why is that? One reason is they do not have preconceived notions about what they can and cannot have. In their mind they want something and see no good reason why they cannot have it. They will make their best case and outline all of the reasons why they should get their way.
It’s not easy to say no sometimes and it’s harder to say yes after already having said no. Any good relationship has some give and take. I’m not suggesting that we go back and forth arguing with our children. I do suggest that you hear them out if they are making a calm and valid point. Arguing is not allowed and if it’s absolutely final then so be it.
I’m open to changing my mind if new information is presented to me. If we always say no then our kids will eventually stop asking. This can cause problems later in life. There are too many adults that don’t think they deserve good things and are not willing to ask for what they want. This can be rooted in childhood and from constantly being told no.
Try to find good in the bad
There are always two ways to look at an event, negative or positive. When bad things happen, try to find the positive and make the most of it. When my daughter was in first grade, we were playing miss party surprise before school one day. We were so engrossed that she ended up missing the bus.
I was not too happy. I had not showered or gotten dressed and now we had to scramble. Fortunately, we were able to laugh it off and it’s always been one of my favorite stories!
I’ve enjoyed being your guest blogger for today. I have my own business blog and have never attempted to write outside of my own expertise. I hope that that these little tips will help you on your journey as a parent.