I just finished a coaching call with two parents in Atlanta, GA and I\’m highly optimistic about their chances of success in turning their family (and their teen) around. Unfortunately, I\’m not always so pumped after a coaching session. So what\’s different here?
First, the combination of what I\’m bringing to their family and what they already have as resources is becoming synergistic. Together we can succeed. It\’s much more difficult to do this alone. These parents are very caring parents and they\’ve been deliberate in their parenting. Truth is, most of our parents fall into this category. But caring is not enough. They have cared deeply all along and still had some big struggles with their son.
I\’m bringing them a system, a plan, concrete instructions. Add this to caring and it supercharges their effectiveness.
Don\’t get me wrong, we haven\’t invented a magic bullet, or found some previously undiscovered truths that turn ordinary parents into super parents, able to handle anything their kids throw at them. What I\’m teaching them is not rocket science and may in fact be mostly review, especially for the mother. She has read extensively in the parenting literature and she\’s a sponge (another factor/strength). So what is making our plan and system begin to work when other information, probably just as true and good, has not had the impact? Two words: TRUST and CONFIDENCE. These emotions are generated because
1. The plan is clear
2. It makes sense, is customized to meet them where they are, AND
3. Most important of all, it’s being delivered by someone who believes in them and knows they can be successful.
Trust and confidence lead to the grand daddy of all keys to success. PARTICIPATION! In our initial phone call I saw them connecting to the philosophy. Now, just a couple of weeks into the program they are engaged, and that engagement is increasing. They areusing our Family Bridge, they are reading in the Parent Library, they are calling me with questions. Momentum and engagement is building. I hold them accountable to follow through, and instead of it bugging them, they feel more committed. Parent engagement, with both mind and heart, makes this whole thing fly!
Concretely, here\’s how it looks when parents trust, have confidence in me and the plan, and are engaged. Today, rather than simply tell their 17 year old to unplug the video game system that he has strategically placed in a far off corner of their home so that hours click by before parents even know it, they will sit and have a solution talk with their son. In the process they will listen intently, get his thoughts, feelings, and wants. Only then will they share their own perception of the situation. After hearing him, they will together, as unified parents who have a plan and vision for their family, provide a solution to the issue. I expect that the kids will hear their parents, because they have been listened to first, and the power struggle that would have happened had they simply done what they were planning to do–tell them to unplug and bring the system into a room where it can be monitored–will have been avoided. That\’s a successful day in the life of a family!
To Family Happiness,
Tim Thayne, Ph.D.