The truism that the hardest job is being a parent has never been more relevant than now. Raising our kids to become well-adjusted adults in a time of unstable digital economy, the pressures of social media and time of rising anxiety and bad mental health among teens is a worrying prospect. It’s understandable to want to wrap your children in cotton wool and shield them from the world.
Half the time, we don’t even feel like ‘adulting’ ourselves when there is so much to contend with. However, this approach, while entirely relatable, can do more harm than good. Not exposing our kids to any of the realities of the world leaves them totally unprepared when they do fly the nest. We are not born with all the coping skills we need, and it’s the job of a parent to teach vital truths and practicalities. Learning these things isn’t a one-off, either. It’s a process of trial and error, discovery and success and failure to develop the judgement required to navigate successfully through life.
In truth, it’s a process that never stops. How many times have you felt your inner child rise to the surface when the going gets challenging? There are lots of situations in life where keeping your cool and knowing what to do for the best is tough. So what can you do to try and ensure your kids are prepared for whatever life has to throw at them? You can’t cover them for every single eventuality, but there are also a few likely scenarios where you can. Here are a few key areas where you can impart some adulting skills, starting now…
Be Kind To Others…And Kinder To Yourself
This is an area that many adults struggle deeply to master. When people treat you badly, the reaction of your inner child is to cry, scream, lash out – maybe even throw things. It takes a lot of overcoming that instinctive reaction and learn that you have a choice about how to react – indeed, some adults appear never to learn this fully. Making a conscious decision to be understanding, to forgive is a learned process, honed over time. So begin by coaching your little ones on the importance of empathy and seeing things from a different point of view. Ask them to think about how their words and actions affect others. It doesn’t stop there, either. Quite often, in our pressure cooker society, we are our own harshest critics. Today’s society seems engineered for constant comparisons of ourselves to others, and invariably we find ourselves lacking. The best gift we can give our children is by teaching them to be kind to themselves, expose the myth of perfection, and reassure them it’s always okay to be themselves.
Save For A Rainy Day
We also need to help our children become financially literate when so many in today’s society have negative credit and rely on payday loans to get through. If your child can learn to live within their means – no easy feat in a relentlessly consumerist society – to put aside savings and to prioritise when it comes to spending, they will lead a far happier and less stressful life, whatever their earning power. Start by involving kids in the everyday mechanics of shopping and budgeting, introduce them to saving with a longer-term.goal in mind and ask them money-related questions designed to bring in the concept of value. You’ll be standing them in great stead to manage their finances independently when they eventually fly the nest.
In an age where we have never had more channels to communicate, ironically our skill in doing so seems to be declining. We listen without hearing, constantly distracted by the flow of incoming notifications, having lots of shallow interactions while being too distracted to find any depth. And this is why loneliness is a rising epidemic in society. Technology means that we hide behind screens instead of forming deep and lasting connections. Teach your children to avoid creating gaps in relationships by prioritising face to face communication. That means paying them full attention when you’re with them and being present rather than vegging out on your smartphone. Teaching them to discuss and debate face to face and how to develop active listening skills is crucial. It will stand them in great stead in their careers ns their personal lives.
The ability to lay full claim to our own actions and fully absorbing the consequences of them is another tough but worthwhile life lesson in adulting. We have become entrenched in a victim culture, finding endless ways to deflect blame and excuse our own actions. But no matter how many bad hands life has dealt you, how you choose to respond to that is your choice. We can’t control what happens in our lives, but we can control our reactions – and that can make crucial and far-reaching changes. If we feel persecuted, that is the reality. But if we choose to empower ourselves and choose our actions in life to be positive ones, then the world becomes a brighter place. Too many people allow themselves to feel disempowered – a victim of circumstance – and that traps them. Choose to own your life and you’ll have a very different experience. Teaching our children how to cope with disappointment, how to battle setbacks, failure and plain bad luck, is a hugely important skill. It’s our job as parents to equip them with the tools to develop emotional resilience. Dealing with negative circumstances is, unfortunately, part of life that can’t be avoided. No story is without some sorrow and pain. But teach your children to bounce back from bad times and you give them a hugely valuable ability. Allow appropriate levels of risk and freedom, teach them how to independently problem solve rather than rushing in to smooth everything over all the time, and don’t give them all the answers. Making a few mistakes along the way is an essential part of their development – so put aside your own fears and let them flourish.
*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.