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Much like a wife desires a husband to hear about her day before coming up with solutions for her daily difficulties, our children desire the same from parents.
Too often we as parents accelerate past the consoling portion of the parenting process (because nothing is more painful for a parent than seeing the pain and anguish in our little loved one’s eyes…), but when we cheat this part of the process – underwhelming results occur.
To the chagrin of every work-smarter-not-harder person out there, a parent can come up with the most brilliant advice on the planet to a struggling son or depressed daughter, but it won’t land as well if that same child feels alone or sees him or herself as some problem to be fixed. We must first sit in the trenches of our just-returning-from-school kid, open our ears, and quench our curiosity to each child’s uniquely daily experience. That means being sad with them when they did poorly on a test, sharing in their frustration in being assigned too much homework, and getting angry with them when they feel slighted or unimportant with their group of so-called friends.
Joining our children in their pain gives a parent credibility in their eyes – credibility that they cared enough to sit with them through their ranting and raving, and credibility in not coming across as another know-it-all adult whom knows how to find a solution before the problem has a chance to be fully unpacked.
Make your children the expert on their crappy day, and they just might listen to your expertise on how to get through it next time.