Using a “Time Machine Mentality” to Frame Our Parenting Styles
Let’s use our imaginations for a moment: Scientists have created a monitor we can use to view our past, to pierce the veil of time and watch our lives from five, 15 or 30 years ago. This isn’t time travel — we can’t actually alter anything — but we can observe our actions with perfect clarity.
We decide to use this device to look back and examine some of our time spent with our children, when they — and we — were much younger.
What would we see?
What would we think of our parenting methods?
Would we be happy or sad?
Proud or disturbed?
Would we eagerly use this monitor, or would we dread what we were about to witness?
It’s easy to lose track of the big picture in our hectic day-to-day activities.
One day tends to blur into the next and we can fall into patterns, particularly when it comes to our children. Sometimes those patterns are necessary and work for us — the routine to get everyone ready for school and out the door in the morning is a must — but there are other times when our parenting skills get put on “autopilot” and we don’t give our children the attention they need.
Or, worse, the day might have worn down our patience to the point where, when we get home, we become short-tempered with our family, who have done nothing to deserve this behavior from us.
When we look through our monitor at the past, would we smile at what we see, or would we be begging the person we see in the monitor to make different decisions?
Now, let’s look at this situation from the other direction. Our time monitor is set to look five, 15 or 30 years into the future, and we can see the relationship we have with our children now that they are adults.
Did they build good lives?
Are they living their dreams?
Are they reaching their goals and thriving?
Do we have a close relationship with them?
Do they still come to us for guidance?
Or did they leave as soon as they could, ready to put as much distance between us and them as possible?
While we can’t change the past, it’s well within our power to change both the present and the future.
If we don’t like the picture we’re imagining of our adult children and our relationship with them, the time is now to change our behavior so we can influence the future behavior and actions of our child.
Often, this “time machine mentality” is all it takes to remind us to stop, take a breath and rethink our reactions. What we say and do in anger can stay with our children for the rest of their lives. When we give our children our full attention, love and encouragement and let them know we are listening because we love them and want what’s best for them, that can stay with them as well.
A friend of mine once shared one of his parenting philosophies with me that, while simple on the surface, really made a difference in the way his children saw the world and their place in it. Sometimes they would ask if they could do something, and if he was busy or otherwise distracted, he would catch himself saying “no” automatically.
When they could offer a logical, reasonable debate as to why they should be able to do the thing — not whining, pouting or pitching a fit — he would often reverse his initial decision. He reserved the right to be persuaded. This philosophy taught a valuable lesson to both the parent and the child. The child learned using calm rationality would sometimes win the day (or they knew they would at least be heard), and my friend got the opportunity to have an actual discussion with them, which could naturally lead to teachable moments.
His children are now accomplished, self-sufficient adults who have taken these lessons to heart. If he used our “time monitor,” I know these interactions with his children would make him smile.
While we don’t have access to this type of device — at least, not yet — the idea of it can still be of value.
Strict Parenting Style
As parents, we have to make decisions when it comes to the children under our roof.
While we make these dozens of times a day when they’re younger, those decisions start to become fewer but potentially more difficult as they get older.
It’s important that we face these questions through this lens, whether they are life-changing moments or everyday judgment calls.
The goal of a parent is simple: We are responsible for preparing our children to excel in life. We do this by giving them the tools, education, support, love and encouragement to live up to their potential.
Achieving this goal, however, can be difficult. Before they’re ready to go out on their own and face the world, we must make decision after decision about their wellbeing.
In every situation, we weigh the benefits our children can gain with the risks they’ll face.
How much should we protect them, and how much should we let them face to become stronger and more able to stand on their own?
While some of these decisions are easy — eat dinner before dessert, brush your teeth before bed, etc. — others might not be.
What age should they be able to date? How late should they be allowed to stay out?
What is the penalty for not doing homework?
Often there might not be one correct answer to a situation. It’s in these grey areas where even the best-intentioned parent may face a dilemma.
And, our kids are growing up in a different time — a different world — from when we did. They face challenges that didn’t exist before — the answers we can pull from our own youth experiences might not be enough.
It’s in these moments when having mentors in your life can help you find the right course for both you and your child.
With a network of parents you trust and respect — those who have raised, or are raising kids who will win at life — you’ll find a place to ask your questions and get the guidance you need when the answers aren’t clear.
With the Theory of 5, you’ll learn what to look for when seeking the guidance of other parents. You’ll see why it’s valuable to not only speak with those with children who are now productive adults, but with parents who have children at or near the age of your own. Good parents are always questioning the decisions they make; learning to ask the right questions, however, is what sets excellent parents apart from those whose children will fail to thrive as they get older.
There is no greater gift we give the world than children who will make a positive impact on it. These are the children who were taught from the very beginning of their lives the lessons that allow them to become all they were meant to be.
The road is not easy and life's not fair — every decision can help or hinder our children’s development — but you don’t have to travel it alone.
Best Parenting Style When A Virus Changes Your Childs World
When we parent with a Theory of 5 mindset, one of the things we know is that we must be honest with our children without putting expectations on them that they’re not yet equipped to handle. As concerned as we might be in this time of coronavirus, our children might be just as anxious. Their world has been turned upside down, and they might be struggling with it more than the adults around them. As parents, it’s vital that we be there for them.
We often feel that our job is to protect them from the harsh realities. In the case of COVID-19, however, we’ll do them a disservice, or actively put them in harm’s way, if we’re not factual about the situation.
Here are some ways my mentors and I believe are essential when it comes to our children during these challenging days:
It’s okay to talk about it — Even if they are very young, children often know when something is going on. Older children, of course, are well aware that things are different now. Their school year, in many areas of the country, has ended prematurely. They are told they can’t go over to their friends’ houses, they can’t take part in their usual activities and they don’t know when — and in their minds, if — things are going to get back to normal. Many parents want to shield their children from uncomfortable truths, but the truth is that they are already uncomfortable.
It’s okay to talk to them and explain the situation. It’s vital, however, that we calmly present that information. Even if we’re feeling anxious about the state of the world, we must take care not to share that anxiety. If they see that we’re calm, they’ll be calmer.
Be factual, but don’t overwhelm them — When we share information with our children about COVID-19, we shouldn’t hide the facts from them and tell them we shouldn’t worry about it. The older they are, the more they understand that this is something to take very seriously, especially if anyone in our family or group is at heightened risk. With younger children, we must talk to them at the level appropriate for their age and maturity. We don’t have to go into mortality rates; it’s enough for them to know that people are getting sick, and if we stay in, we’ll be less likely to get sick and this will be over sooner than if we don’t.
Tell them how to stay safe — We must share with our children the ways we will stay safe from catching COVID-19, and then make sure we enforce those practices. Washing our hands, maintaining our distance from people outside of our household, wearing masks and gloves when appropriate and other behaviors allow us to maintain a bit of control over a situation that seems very much outside of our control at this moment. A bonus benefit is that we’ll be monitoring our own habits, which is great for everyone involved.
Let them know that things will return to normal — As a society, we’ve not experienced anything like this for generations. As new as it is to us, think of what it must seem like for our children. The weeks ahead may seem to go slowly for us, but they’ll crawl by for kids. Assure our children that things will go back to normal. They’ll go back to school, be their friends, play sports and do all the things they can’t do at the moment. We shouldn’t, however, give them false hope that it’ll be “next week” when we don’t know precisely when this challenging time will be over. Be positive, but be factual.
Let them talk with their friends — Let’s keep in mind that our children have been cut off from their peers. Make sure that they maintain contact with their closest friends. If they are older, that shouldn’t be a problem, but younger children often don’t talk to their friends on the phone or over Facetime. Get with the parents of your children’s friends and figure out ways that they can stay in touch with each other.
Plan a structured day — With school out and many parents working from home, the normal structure of most family’s days are shattered. Building some order into the weekdays will support everyone get through this with a little less stress and a little more productivity. If we find ourselves homeschooling our children, we need to put thought into our lesson plan, even if we’ve never thought we’d be teachers.
Find out what they were doing in various subjects when they were still in school, and then go from there. Our children’s teachers will be able to give guidance when it comes to this, so we can feel comfortable contacting them. It’s tempting to let the television babysit them, especially if we’re trying to get work done. Don’t give into this. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, so let’s find a way to keep everyone occupied and productive.
Listen to them — Our children might be afraid of what’s going on in the world, but might not be able to form the questions they want answered, especially if they’re smaller. Pay attention to their words and actions, and be there to comfort or inform and comfort them when they need it. If they tell you they’re bored, make it into a discussion about what they could do. If they tell you they’re worried, let them know you are there to protect them. If they miss Grandma and Granddad, put them on the phone or Facetime. Find ways to make sure that they are informed and protected.
Being a parent is a tremendous responsibility, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity.
Rather than looking back at this period as a time of uncertainty and fear, we can use this time to create wonderful memories that will last a lifetime for both us and our children.