Have you ever considered the premise of instructions? When you buy a new bike, tv, toaster, whatever – it always comes with instructions, no matter how basic. Not so with kids – suddenly you’re up and running with a tiny human with no helpful indexed manual to be seen.
It’s a simple truth that I discussed with one of our users this week over coffee. As two dads with young kids, it was great to share this moment, and our thoughts on how we have sometimes felt a bit lost when it comes to parenting.
Have you seen the Will Smith clip from Apple’s ‘Dads’ yet? The fact that he has a 100 page manual for his new TV but nothing for the new son they are bringing back from the hospital.
We won’t parent like our parents
We tend to have a view of the good things our parents did and the areas where we feel they fell short. We all say, I’ll never do that when I’m a parent. Then guess what, one day words are coming out of your mouth that you recognise from your own childhood. We fall back on the conditioning formed by the way we have been parented ourselves.
Being able to dive deeply into parent-child psychology has made me realise so many things about parenting.
In our role as primary carers, our behaviour is perhaps the most significant role model our kids will have in their lives. And importantly, it’s about the things we don’t do and don’t say as much as what we do and say.
‘Perfect Parenting’ is a fallacy
The other big theme and one that comes through our research is the concept of ‘perfect parenting’. There is often a strong desire to demonstrate that life is ‘all good’ as a parent. In reality, it’s important to create a meaningful relationship with our kids, which reflects the realities of life’s ups and downs. When we open up and share our vulnerabilities (Brene Brown style) we feel better and we make deeper connections. The same should be true between parent and child.
I tend to talk to my kids on my terms and not theirs
In the same way we should be honest, we also need to be careful to talk to our kids on their terms. We are almost always talking to our kids on our terms. Whether that’s a functional activity – tidy your room, do your homework, eat your dinner etc. Equally, even in emotional territory how often do you ask questions for your benefit as a parent as opposed to theirs as a child?
We need to learn to take a breath (usually deep) and re-orientate ourselves to the person in front of us. Take a moment to connect with your child on their terms. Then and only then, check in with them.
There’s more on this within the ParentalEQ app and more to come on this from our team.
Practise some parental EQ every day
So that all takes me back to the notion of ParentalEQ. The idea that we need to work on our parental emotional intelligence, just like we work on our fitness, on our singing or on a language. We need to practise regularly. Just like learning anything else, we won’t always get it right – which is as it should be – but we’ll keep going.
Welcome to the ParentalEQ community. One day, one coffee, one activity, one step forward & backward at a time. The journey of modern parenting continues to be one beautiful roller-coaster.
Words by Vijay Solanki – Psych BSc(Hons) – dad of 2 awesome kids and co-founder – still learning
Edited by Linda Dickens – former Disney Marketer and Comms Consultant – mum of 2 awesome and older kids
We are ParentalEQ – a parenting platform to raise emotionally strong kids. To learn more, download our app in the App Store or Google Play here.