Parents, Are You a Slingshot or an Anchor?
Michael Byron, Smith, retired Air Force officer, wrote an excellent blog for the National Fatherhood Institute (click here to read it). In this blog, he wrote: “Families should be slingshots, throwing children into the world prepared for what lies ahead. Unfortunately, the problems of dysfunctional families are like anchors, dragging down their children’s potential….” So, I have to ask: Have you created a family environment that will serve as a slingshot for your children or an anchor?
- Place unrealistic expectations on their children.
- Make demeaning, degrading, and discouraging remarks about their children or their children’s activities.
- Imply greater acceptance of their children only after they have performed to a certain level (good grades, starting team, practiced their instrument, etc.).
- Punish or demean children for times they experience failure.
- Offer rude criticisms about their child’s character or performance.
- Engage in name-calling.
- Disregard their children’s feelings…or even punishing their children for “negative” feelings like anger, frustration, sorrow, or tearfulness.
- Tell or imply they know more about what their children feel, think, or like than their children do themselves.
These behaviors act as anchors around your children’s neck. They weigh your children down, drowning them under the waves of guilt and shame.
Slingshot families, on the other hand:
- Learn about the development of children, their children’s development in particular, so they can maintain realistic expectations.
- Encourage their children.
- Make sure their children know they are loved even when they fall short of perfection or have a particularly bad day.
- Teach their children that failure is an opportunity to learn. They encourage determination and healthy persistence.
- Offer their children constructive criticism in a loving manner.
- Use “negative” feelings like anger, frustration, sorrow, or tearfulness as opportunities to grow more intimate with their children.
- Remain curious about their children’s feelings, thoughts, and interests…using them as touch-points from which to deepen intimacy.
These behaviors serve as slingshots for your children. They help your children develop the skills necessary to navigate the world with courage, confidence, and poise.
So, I ask again. Which one are you—an anchor family or a slingshot family?