Parents are the most important agents of their kids’ life. They are the first and most crucial source of information and the main reference for their kids’ identity. Big words, it means that you, yes, you, if you are a parent, have an important job, important and with lots of responsibility. If it seems too heavy to carry, it is also the most enjoyable and exciting journeys you will ever take.
Bringing kids into this world is a selfish act. Yes, I know most people cringe at this point, but think about it, you brought your kids to life for you, not for them. They did not exist when you made your decision to have them.
With this mentality (which I believe we all have), it is hard to parent kids, because it is all about us and not about them. The best parenting is when the kids’ best interest is the main concern. You see, this is why when couples divorce, their main challenge is to find the balance between the kids’ best interest and theirs. None of them can be neglected. As I have covered in Happy Parents Raise Happy Kids, for parents to do a good parenting job, they need to take care of themselves too.
There are many challenges in parenting and many parents are in pursuit of rules for establishing and maintaining a happy family. There are many systems to follow, many books to read, many rules to examine, many researches to read, a lot of advice to listen to and many mistakes to make and I believe that each parent must find his or her own magic formula. Yes, read a lot, listen a lot, experience a lot, succeed and fail and make your own choices, the choices that are good for you as a parent. The magic about success is that you know you have reached it only when you reach it, but when you get there, you have no doubts.
A good parenting system I have found to be very successful is that of being your kids’ life coach. Here are some of the rules of coaching that can be 100% applicable in parenting.
1. In coaching, the coach must constantly work on his or her emotional state. You cannot possibly give when you do not have enough. If you are a parent and want happy kids, make sure you are happy.
2. In coaching, the coach can only give (not force) and the client must take. In parenting, you cannot force kids to do things (well, yes, you can, but it is only temporary, because it only teaches your kids that you have more power that strong people abuse their power over others, which kills one of the most important qualities in people – trust!)
3. In coaching, both coach and client agree to respect each other. They never call each other names, they appreciate each other’s time, they are grateful, and they listen and care for each other. In parenting, this is essential. Respectful parents raise respectful kids.
4. In coaching, the whole relationship is based on targets. The client sets the goals and the coach helps him or her reach them. In parenting, we need to help our kids to set goals and to achieve them. The more we do this, the more focus our kids will be and the happiest.
5. In coaching, there is no "one size fits all" philosophy. What is good for one might be too tight for others. A good coaching program is tailored. In parenting, there is no point using the same techniques your parents did or what worked for you with older children. No two kids are the same, so if you try something and it does not work, be flexible and try something else.
6. In coaching, the coach must keep their own agenda aside and focus on the clients’ needs. As I said, this is one of the biggest challenges. In parenting, it is probably the same. Remember, when you are parenting it is not about you but about your kid. If you are working too hard, you are probably in the wrong "zone" and you are trying to make your kid fit into your parenting style instead of adjusting your style to theirs. When your agenda is more important, be clear about it so everyone knows it is about you.
7. In coaching, the coach is there to encourage and support the client every step of the way. Support means 100%. In parenting, we need to give 100% support, not punishment when things do not follow our rules but encouragement when things do follow our own rules. Focusing on the positive is one of the coach’s most important tools. Parents should use it too.
8. In coaching, the coach helps the client find the motivation inside instead of being subject to external pressure. Parents are a great pressure point in their kids’ life. We need to teach our children to find reasons within to do things. If they do things for us, it will not last forever. Motivation is like a muscle. If kids learn to use it, they can motivate themselves to do anything. If they do it for other’s approval and acceptance, we are in trouble.
9. The coach has a personal style but will present information in a way that suits the client. Parents are different and their kids’ are also different. If we went to help our kids find the best in them, we must accept and appreciate that our kids are different. Some kids are better at some skills and others have challenges, if they are not like us, there is nothing wrong with them.
10. In coaching, the coach talks about their own challenges and offers solutions but is very clear that it is the client’s choice what to do with that information. In parenting, if we talk about our success and challenges, about our childhood and friends with honesty, it helps our kids to realise that we are human and that their journey in life is just natural. It can inspire and motivate them to never give up and keep moving forward and can build their resilience.
11. In coaching, the client’s success is the coach’s success. In parenting, it is the same. When our children succeed, we walk around like peacocks and proud as if we had something to do with that (which we did). Help your kids succeed!
Parenting is very much like life coaching. You can, if you want, be your kids’ coach and have happy relationships in your family.