Ten Things Your Kids Need Most From You
Ten Things Your Kids Need Most From You.
What do kids (tweens especially) think they need from us parents?
I just had a little chat with Eli (12) and Fynn (10) and asked them that very question. I will share with you the gist of what they said.
I’d always thought that I needed a good parenting book or two to give me my parenting marching orders. Who would have thought our kids themselves could do the same? This post proves that, I think.
To be honest, I was surprised by the deluge of answers my two oldest kids provided – and so, so helpful to me as a parent. They opened up so much that at the end, one said, “I feel so great that I let that all out. You must interview us more – like every month – and you will see more things change.”
I quickly jotted down what they said after the fact, and have re-organized it into 10 things they believe they need. (When you’re a writer’s child, you tend to share three or five or ten thoughts about stuff.)
Here is what they said. Well, actually it’s a combination of actual phrases they used, interwoven with some of my paraphrase of what they said.
1. “Express love for us every day.”
Keep coming to us to say goodnight. Tickle our backs. Tell us often that you love us. Be gentle with us. Lots of hugs.
2. “Be there for us when things are hard.”
Help us to feel a little better when we’re sad. Cheer us up. Stick with is in the good times and the bad times. When we go through hard times thank you that we can talk to you about them.
3. “Respect us.”
I know we’re your children, but remember we’re also a person. Respect that. Ask our opinion. Listen to our thoughts about things. Don’t force us too much to do stuff. Or even to talk about stuff.
4. “Don’t be scared to say no.”
Although you and mom are our best friends, you remind us that you are our parents and we have to respect that. We are your kids. When we start to push our luck, you must keep us to the boundaries. Some parents think they are a better parent if they let the kids do whatever they want – and buy them what they want – a good parent shows them they can’t get and do whatever they want. Kids might think their parents are mean maniacs but actually they are showing us love and respect. So say no sometimes. (I can’t believe we just told you that.)
5. “Keep explaining things.”
We have 1000s of questions about the world and how it works. Thanks for sending us to school to understand things. But also for teaching us about so many interesting things – Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings, how trees grow, how to make French Toast and Berry Coolie, that kind of stuff. And thanks for all those stories you tell us about your growing up – they help us to grow up too.
6. “Teach us about God and what’s right.”
Thanks for reading the Bible with us, and stopping to explain things. Thanks for explaining what’s right and wrong, even if no one is watching. We honestly would not know some things are wrong if you didn’t tell us. And thanks for being role models.
7. “Help us to control our emotions.”
One boy says, ‘I sometimes get crazy angry and frustrated, but I can feel you slowly helping me get control of my emotions.’ The other follows, ‘I used to be all shy, and clam up when I meet new people, but you have been teaching me to put myself out there. And instead of being irritated by my siblings, you’re teaching me to love them and be a role model to them.’
8. “Create structure.”
Every day we like it that we know what to expect at different times. And on weekends too. We like it that we are not just a family that stays in bed the whole day, and that we go for an outing on Saturday, even if sometimes we argue not to. I never regret going. But also we like it when you mix things up a little, but not too often okay.
9. “Show us how to fend for ourselves.”
We’re starting to realize that we will be adults one day. And you won’t always be there to prop us up. So we have to start making good decisions, and work hard, and be responsible. Don’t give up on us – we want to get better at this. We know its not right to let you guys do all the work. Give us more chores. You can’t send us into the world without us knowing how to work.
10. “Teach us how to treat people.”
One child says, ‘Thanks for showing me how to be kinder to other people, to listen to them even if I disagree with them, and not to force others to do things my way. And also to treat my older brother with a bit more respect.’ The other one says, ‘Thanks for challenging my sulking. You show me that feeling sorry for myself and saying no to the things I love and need doesn’t help anyone.’
As you can imagine I was properly blown away by their intuitive sense of what they need from us. Whether this is all they actually need from us is still up for question, but it’s worth hearing them out.
My initial reflection is to write up and keep these 10 points somewhere and use them as a parenting reminder-list and personal score-card for the next while:
- “Express love for them every day.”
- “Be there for them when things are hard.”
- “Respect them.”
- “Don’t be scared to say no.”
- “Keep explaining things.”
- “Teach them about God and what’s right.”
- “Help them to control their emotions.”
- “Create structure.”
- “Show them how to fend for themselves.”
- “Teach them how to treat people.”
You might want to ask your kids the same question: ‘What do you need from me as your parent?’ I wouldn’t be surprised if they echoed many of my kids’ answers.
Feel free to share this if you want – all us parents need all the help and encouragement we can get.