THE PEOPLE SOLUTIONS NEWSLETTER
VOLUME #8, FOCUSING ON:
COACHING FOR BETTER PARENTS AND STRONGER KIDS
© Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney
Originally printed 1997 - reissued 2003, All Rights Reserved
1. IN THE NEWS
2. BETTER PARENTS
3. STRONGER KIDS
4. COACH CORNER
6. COACHING TIP
IN THE NEWS: TV Time
I saw a great ad on TV the other day. This is one in which the mom is saying "no" to her kids’ request for a day at the beach because she has to meet a client for business. Her long-faced daughter sadly asks, "Can I be a client?" It doesn’t take long for Mom to make her decision about how she would spend her day. "Okay kids, you have 10 minutes to get ready to go to the beach."
I wasn’t aware until the end of the commercial that the object she placed in her beach bag was a cell phone and the commercial was for ATT. Regardless, is this really a step in the direction that says we have choices about what we do and sometimes the choice can be for the kids? Making a decision for the kids and the beach isn’t always feasible but we may have more choices than we are aware of.
Another TV offering has Peter Jennings stating that kids who have parents who talk to them about drugs are _ as likely to use drugs. So – talk to your kids about drugs and especially on March 30, which is D-Day. If you want some resources so you can talk to your kids go to http://www.health.org and the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information.
Our kids really do learn from what we do, not from what we say. If you want them to have a strong self-esteem, be sure that yours is strong. If you want them to be loving, kind people, then you be loving and kind. If you want them to take responsibility for their actions, be responsible in your own life.
I have talked with thousands of parents and it has never ceased to amaze me that parents could be so angry with their kids for breaking rules when they as parents are models of rule-breakers. I acknowledge that perfection from parents is neither expected nor attainable but at least be aware of what message you are sending. Many kids learn that rules are negotiable and the only ones you have to keep are the ones that you don’t get caught breaking.
Parents are often appalled when their kids lie about finishing their homework but find it perfectly acceptable to call in sick from work and then spend the day doing something else. Parents often call upon their children to give telephone messages when they don’t want to take calls.
Parents find it expedient for their teenage children to drive to the corner store when something is needed but can’t understand why their kids are sneaking the car out in the middle of the night.
It’s hard for parents to convince their kids not to fight at school when they are arguing all the time at home.
I could go on with this for a while, but I think you get the point. Just be aware of your choices and the legacy you will leave.
STRONGER KIDS: Prom Alternatives
The last two newsletters have addressed issues of school board authority and family rights and responsibilities as they relate to zero tolerance with alcohol and drugs on school campuses. The last volley by the school board had been the intent to use breathalyzers on all students attending prom. Students testing positive would have their parents pick them up, attend alternative schools and not attend graduation.
What we as parents hope for is that we raise our children to be independent (not rebellious) thinkers who when they find "situations" have not only the ability to think of alternatives but the ability to put solutions into action.
From what could be a local embarrassment with national attention has come a reason for pride as a group of seniors, upset with the choices they had, decided to organize and raise funds for an alternative prom. This is a prom where high standards are expected and the issues of inappropriate behavior, some of which might be alcohol use, will not be expected or tolerated.
There have been numerous letters and editorials about the alternate prom, some of which have referred to the "whiner" students and their parents and some in support. What is important to me is that from this apparent mess has emerged a message of hope – that we haven’t failed or kids, that there are strong kids among us who when challenged have the spunk and ability to stand up for what they believe in.
In my view, the decision to go ahead with the prom is beyond agreement or disagreement with the issues and whether or not one group is right or not. These kids are not boycotting, they are not picketing, they are not disrupting, they are not threatening – they are not interfering with anyone’s rights. They are merely finding a way to express themselves and provide alternatives for anyone who would like to participate.
Regardless of the position on the issue, I think these kids deserve our acknowledgement. I have no doubt that these kids will do well in life when critical thinking and judgement are called for.
COACH CORNER: Will he ever learn?
Just when you think your 17 year old is closing in on becoming a reasonably functioning adult, and you sit down to take a deep breath, it starts all over again. This time your son (could be a daughter) downloads "free" trial software for online services, uses parents’ credit card (unauthorized), browses the internet to view, among other things, pornographic materials, uninstalls the browser but leaves fresh tracks on the computer and on the credit card that lead you right to him.
What is a parent to do? The parents who have written have been through this before. In each case their (only) son has promised not to do it again. Parents have talked to him at length. They wonder whether natural consequences, such as making him pay for financial problems, really make a difference. They wonder if grounding is reasonable for a 17 year old or whether it builds resentment (which has him blame the parents for his misery) and increases boredom (which may set the stage for further unauthorized explorations.) They worry about their ability to trust him to behave like an adult.
As you think about what you would do, remember: 1. If this is not a life-threatening situation you can take time to develop a strategy before addressing the problem, 2. Effective parents identify how much of the problem is theirs to solve and then support their kids in becoming stronger by guiding them in solving their parts of the problem.
Although there seem to be several problems involved (pornographic material, using credit cards, being a repeat offender) these are symptoms of another problem.
Teenagers are notoriously self-centered – so taking what he wants without considering the effect on others may be expected – but it is not accepted. Parents must understand that children are in an apprenticeship program of life with us and they need guidance more than ever when they mess up like this. We must continue to help them think about and grow into understanding our mutual interdependence and the importance of trust.
Once parents have had time to think and cool off, the parents’ side of the conversation might go something like this:
"I was surprised that we have this problem again, but I am glad to know what areas we still need to work on together. You are really close to being on your own, so it really is best that this came up now."
"Before we go any further, are you willing to work on this with us?" (Getting permission and agreement with your child is essential. Many of you know that imposing your will on some teenagers only adds fuel to the fire. If he say "no, I’m not interested in cooperating", anything you do is going to be met with failure anyway.)
"Great. I’m glad we can work together – there is strength in numbers. We’re sure you have been giving this a lot of thought so we would like to know what your ideas are about how to handle what has happened."
"Well, we know it’s hard to come up with stuff on your own and we know you have been busy with school. So are you ready to hear what we think?"
"We would like you to come up with a plan that will keep this from happening again. We have been over it before, but I think we have been telling you what we would do. Now we would like to hear from you what will work for you."
"Yes, we can understand that you don’t know where to begin. Would you like us to help you get started?"
"Please include what to do when you want something that is not yours, or is in contrast to your value system or will negatively affect other people you are in relationship with. We’ll take care of the credit card use and the sexually explicit material later."
"That’s right. You are probably going to have to figure out what your values are in these areas."
"You are right again. That might be tough to explain. That’s why we would like you to take the time to think it through and put it down in writing."
""One thing we have come to realize is that teenagers live in the here and now so we are not going to give the usual lecture of why you should be acting right today because it will help you 5 years from now. We want to hear from you why your behavior today is important."
"One last thing. There are a few things that we want you to include in what you put together: 1. What is the problem with what you did, 2. Why is what you did was a problem for us, 3. Whether you intend to keep this from happening again and if the answer to this is yes, 4. The plan you have to keep this from happening."
"You are welcome to add anything else. When do you think you can have this finished? Not until you are 25 years old? Hmmm. That’s too long for us. What about by Saturday? We can meet back here and see what you have done."
"What’s that? You wish you were in a different family? At times, I know what you mean, but then I have thought about what great opportunities we have by being together."
"Yeah, I know this doesn’t go on at the Jones’ or at the house where the grass is greener."
"You think we can be pretty hard on you at times? I don’t expect you to understand or to pat us on the back. Let me tell you – parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever tackled. I don’t expect you to understand our position right now. Maybe you can just trust that we have your best interests at heart."
"You don’t think you can have this done by Saturday? Well, how about some motivation? Let’s make a deal – just so we both have something invested in this. What are two or three things that are really important to you. Your CD player? Your CDs? Your telephone? Your computer? Your TV? Your car?"
"We’ll hold onto your CD’s until you get this done. If you are finished by Saturday, we’ll need a day to look it over. Once we are satisfied that you have thought this through, the CD’s are yours again."
"You think that’s too tough? You think you can’t live without your music. Would our holding the keys to the car be easier? I’m sorry that your week will be so difficult. But, we’ll only hold onto them until you have done what you have agreed to."
"Yes, we would like your response in writing. That way we can carefully consider what you wrote and be as fair to you as possible. We know we are so busy that sometimes we don’t really listen the way we would like to."
"Why are we doing this? This is not easy for us either, but we are doing this because we love you."
"Don’t worry. Let’s go get the CD’s now. We’ll take good care of them."
The Success Journey
by John C. Maxwell
Defining success is a difficult task. Most people equate it with wealth, power, and happiness. But true success is not a thing you acquire or achieve. Rather, it is a journey you take your whole life long. In a refreshingly straightforward and humorous style, John Maxell shares unique insights into what it means to be successful. And he reveals a definition that puts genuine success within your reach yet motivate you to keep striving for your dreams. (From the book jacket.)
My opinion is that The Success Journey is clearly written, easy to read and effective as it provides excellent exercises to identify what your purpose is, how to write your goals, and to understand what it takes to stay in your journey.
COACHING TIP: House rules
House rules are as important to a well-functioning family as job descriptions and organizational policy are to successful companies. By planning ahead, we can include every family member in the decision making process which can increase cooperation and reduce stress.
As much as is said about house rules and how effective they are, there is often little direction given in how to write them. This became very apparent to me when I was working with a family with several young children.
We started by jotting down what was expected. This was a fairly random list without much organization but by the time the list was complete what the parents wanted seemed to fall into just a few categories. There were rules around household chores, rules around school, rules about playing and rules about how to treat other people.
The parents at first were thinking of all the things they didn’t want their kids to do – don’t have a messy bedroom, don’t hit, don’t fight, don’t forget, etc. Then they realized that they were not telling them what they wanted, just what they didn’t want. That changed the outcome dramatically.
Now the list became manageable and it was very positive. The rules were simple "do’s" Do homework by a certain time, play with your brothers like they were your friends, listen and take action when your parents speak, etc.
House rules are to be posted where everyone can see them – the refrigerator and in each bedroom. Include house rules for the parents as well. What is on the list changes as circumstances change. Items can be negotiable but are in place until a group decision is made. This is much easier to keep up with when you have regular family meetings.
*Note: House Rules are much more effective when based on House Values – more on that next time!
To subscribe, simply:
Or you may write Dr. Gaffney at Carol@DrGaffney.com and she will will gladly see to it your receive the newsletter.
BACK ISSUES and OTHER GAFFNEY RESOURCES
You may access back issues through my website (http://www.DrGaffney.com) which also has content and ordering information about the Coaching Guide for Parents and the Coaching Guide for Relaxation and Meditation. Please e-mail for details on weekly telechats as well as on-line chats that I host.
COPYRIGHT & DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS
This information is copyrighted by Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney, people SOLUTIONS, and DrGaffney.com and may be only forwarded if done so in its entirety and as long as no changes or edits are made. Also, it must include subscription instructions. Please contact Dr. Gaffney for permission for excerpting and general distribution.
Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney
32 Cole Street, Suite 5
Warren, RI 02885