Have you ever seen the result of a dog-cam or hamster-cam? It’s really interesting to see the world from another point of view. We often get so accustomed to our own view of the world, we begin to think everyone sees things the same way we do.
Have you ever thought though, about your children’s unique view of your parenting? Don’t worry, I’m not advocating throwing out training and discipline because your child occasionally thinks you are mean. What is important is their view of your parenting over time. If they had to describe you as a parent (when they aren’t mad at you for giving them a consequence!), what would they say? As they discuss their parents with their friends, how do they describe you? What do they complain about? What do they brag about?
Knowing how your child views your parenting is important. It can give you vital clues on ways you can improve your parenting. Take their comments and analyze them for the underlying need. What do their comments say about what they really want from you, but are not receiving on a regular basis? The answers can give you some direction on the ways you need to tweak your parenting. Remember two children in the same family can view your parenting in radically different ways. You will need to understand the specific needs and concerns of each of your children to be the best possible parent for them.
There are a lot of different things your children may share with you and what that may mean for your parenting. There are a few however, I believe many children would share with their parents if they could.
Does your child often say you don’t understand? Perhaps it’s a common childhood retort, but often it is also a parenting issue. How much time have you spent actually listening to her music and learning the names of the groups? How much have you learned about his favorite team or hobby? How well do you really know their friends and the other people they interact with on a daily basis? To parent well, you need to regularly enter your child’s world. Not only to spend vital quality time with her, but to attempt to truly know and understand her world. How can you possible give appropriate godly advice on a topic with which your child is struggling if you know nothing about it?
Are you constantly hearing “You aren’t listening to me?” Yes, it could be more about the fact you aren’t agreeing with him, but it could also be an opportunity to fine tune your parenting. When your child is excited or upset, do you really stop and listen to everything he has to say? Are you hearing the emotions behind the words? Are you asking appropriate , meaningful questions to better understand what happened? Could you pass a quiz on your conversation five minutes after it ended? Your child knows if you are truly engaged in her story. If you aren’t, she will begin shutting down and you will eventually have a very shallow relationship with her. You can’t point your child to God, if you have no idea where she is headed or with whom.
When you are giving discipline or consequences, are you always accused of being harsh or not being willing to hear the entire story? Yes, you very well could have a bright child attempting to manipulate you. On the other hand, your expectations may be too high for the age of your child, or you may not be hearing your child explain legitimately why it was not misbehavior or even worse your consequences may border on physical or verbal abuse. Discipline and consequences are important, but if done incorrectly can actually encourage more rebellion – not less.
Does your child often brag he has no rules at home or you don’t make him do anything or worse yet he can get by with anything? Sure, he may be trying to earn cool points with his pals, but perhaps he really wants something else. He would rather die than admit it, but this may be a child crying out for boundaries and limits. Many parents don’t understand children need boundaries and structure to allow them to explore and learn while feeling safe to do so. Denying them boundaries, rules and discipline will inhibit their ability to develop and use appropriately the gifts and talents God gave them.
As you can tell, there are so many clues about how you need to tweak your parenting for your child based on how they view your parenting. Wonder how you can find out what they are thinking? Listen carefully as they discuss the parents of their friends. Ask in a non-threatening way, “Do you think I do that, too?” Tell them you really want to know how they would describe you as a parent or how they plan to parent differently when they are an adult than you are parenting them. Often their answers will give you plenty of clues about their viewpoint.
Viewing your parenting from your child’s point of view, may actually help you become a much better parent. It can also improve and even heal broken parent-child relationships. Just remember though, there are other points of view and your child’s may not be the most accurate. Even if you think your child’s view of your parenting is totally off base – especially during those difficult parenting years – take the time to explain why you have made those parenting choices. Who knows, twenty years from now, you may just catch her parenting in the exact way about which she complained to you!