After attending one of our workshops recently, a lady advised me that she came to the realisation that she had created the situation whereby her 21 year old daughter had become dependent on her for advice.
She hadn’t intended for this to happen but in the belief that she was ‘helping’ her daughter she was always there to lend a hand and offer her wisdom and guidance when required. During the workshop she realised that this well intended practice had resulted in her now adult daughter, being reliant upon her Mum and she also realised that her daughter was really lacking in confidence, wasn’t able to make decisions for herself and always avoided taking responsibility herself. Please take a moment to think about how this lady now felt about the choices she had made as a parent.
Whilst I reassured her that we all do the best we can with what we know and until we know any different or better we can’t change, she still said that she wished she had had the awareness about asking Better Questions in her parenting much earlier on in her life. The good news that came from this event was that the Mum sat down with her daughter to agree a new strategy of communication that would start to address the issues identified and I have to say that I really take my hat off to them both for their willingness to change. The good news for all parents is that their style of parenting can change at any point when you consciously choose to do something else.
Most parents unconsciously communicate by telling, advising and suggesting, and whilst this may be a good strategy on some occasions, it is the skill of asking Better Questions that will enable you to build capability in your kids that they need as they develop into healthy, capable adults. Questions have the ability to enable children to tap into their own knowledge and wisdom (yes they all have wisdom, even at a very young age!) as well as build their resourcefulness to deal with situations that they will inevitably face as they go on life’s challenging journey.
Children that are used to tapping into their own potential, which is what questions enable, will find it much easier to deal with issues and be more resilient when it comes to setbacks as they feel confident in their ability to be resourceful and find their own answers. Questions also teach kids to get used to taking responsibility for making decisions and managing the consequences of those decisions – again all of these are invaluable skills that many adults don’t even have because they haven’t been given the tools to build their capability. Learning to take responsibility is crucial to the development of healthy children and a question is an invitation to take responsibility – when they respond they are taking responsibility.
So please reflect on your parenting style – nurturing parents can care too much and whilst they think they are being helpful, in the long run find themselves realising that they have contributed to their kids inabilities instead of building their capability. Which one do you want to be?