by Michelle LaRowe
Editor in Chief
When it comes to building and maintaining a solid relationship with your children, Laura Fobler, coach and author has some fresh ideas. Recently, I had a chance to catch up with her, learn about her methods and strategies, and discover more about how she helps parents and children build better bonds.
eNannySource: What are the common myths of parenting?
Laura: The first myth is that some parents say: why would I do things differently? I turned out just fine, so I guess my parents got it right and now I’m duplicating their system!
To those parents I’d like to say: what makes you feel so sure that this system will work for your child as well? Is your child a perfect copy of you? And wouldn’t it be nice to think of a system first and then decide what system to use instead of picking up the pieces afterwards, when it’s too late?
The second myth that I hear very often, from both parents and experts on this topic, is that you should let your child know who’s the boss, by punishing, blackmailing or rewarding your child! There are many, many books written why I think you should never even consider doing things like this. But the main reasons are that punishing and blackmailing are based on fear, otherwise, your child would not listen to you. Rewarding is based on dependency, otherwise your child would not be willing to do the things you want. This way, your child will never become an independent individual. In all cases, you are on the receiving end, as you always get what you want!
There are many alternatives that you can use, without the help of punishment, blackmailing or rewarding. So this is also a myth and definitely NOT TRUE at all!
The third myth is that one should be consistent! It is a myth that I also hear often.
When I first became a parent, I also tried to be consistent, but I failed time after time. I simply could not keep it up. So in the end, I gave up completely. When I heard that being consistent is impossible, I felt so relieved! To put it even stronger: if you want to be consistent, you will need to suppress your own feelings and at times, will need to lie to your own child. This way, your child will never learn to take other people’s feelings into consideration. So now you know, this is a myth, and nothing else but a myth.
The fourth myth is that if children don’t obey, one needs to be stricter! I see that many parents try doing this, but they unfortunately fail each and every time.
Besides the fact that your power will be gone at some point anyway, because you have nothing left to punish or reward with, you will notice when you try being stricter, that your child will show more and more resistance and the relationship will deteriorate each day.
Fortunately, there are many alternatives without the need to punish or reward. So, this is a MYTH as well!
eNannySource: What is the most common thing parents are struggling with?
Laura: The biggest challenge for parents today, is that they do not have enough time and energy to spend on themselves! Most of the times, they are completely exhausted!
eNannySource: How can they stop that struggle?
Laura: Parents need to realize that the biggest present to their kids is to take care of themselves! When you take great care of yourself, your child will benefit as well!
Everyone who has flown in an airplane before, will know that in airplanes, they always tell parents that in case of an emergency, they need to put on their own oxygen masks, before they help their children put on their oxygen masks. The reason for this is obvious: if children lose their parent on top of experiencing a disaster, they are in bigger trouble.
The caveat is simple: take care of yourself FIRST, otherwise, you will not be able to take proper care of others!
eNannySource: In today’s busy world, how can parents better connect with their kids?
Laura: The main thing is to stop judging the stories your kids tell you. Simply listen to them and keep your personal opinion or lectures to yourself, as judging may stop your child from telling you the things he’s involved in. Unfortunately, our language is filled with judgmental adjectives, such as ‘beautiful’, ‘stupid’, ‘intelligent’, ‘late’, ‘early’, and so on. Doing this won’t take you more time than usual and you will be amazed by how much your child will tell you once you stop judging them!
eNannySource: How can parents and children better enjoy the time they together?
Laura: Schedule ‘alone time’ for you and each of your children, so you can be with the 2 of you without the interruption of another family member. Having this special time every day would be great and it doesn’t have to be long, reading a book before bedtime or doing a game together are all great ideas. The simple fact that your child has YOU all for themselves, will make a huge difference in your relationship with them!
eNannySource: What’s the best piece of advice you have for today’s parents.
Laura: Never continue a parenting strategy simply because from your perspective, ‘it seems to work’. Please investigate the short term and long term effects of your approach.
Punishing or rewarding ‘works’, but I need at least one book to explain to you the damage you will cause to your relationship (and to your child) using this power system. Trust me, there are much better ways.
eNannySource: Is there anything else you want to share?
Laura: It is NOT your opinion, your intention, your education or your money that defines the quality of your relationship with your child. The only thing that defines the quality of your relationship is how your child FEELS when she is with you. Every human being, children included, want to feel accepted, supported and inspired. Never underestimate the power of your words, as words can contribute to the relationship or they can contaminate the relationship.
Laura Fobler is the author of The Parenting Struggle. Laura received a master’s degree in Psychology and has been working as an independent coach and trainer since 2005. In 2008 she was licensed as a Gordon® Instructor. You can learn more about Laura at www.LauraFobler.com.