Be a Bigger, Stronger Parent
I overheard two children talking on the playground. One said, “My dad’s bigger than your dad.” The other replied, “Well my dad is stronger….” They were obviously at the age of admiring and adoring their fathers. In their early, concrete thinking stage of development they truly thought of their dads as the “strongest” or “biggest.” It struck me, though, that their conversation reminded me of a phrase from the *Circle of Security. The Circle of Security notes that our children need us, as parents, to be “Bigger, Stronger, Wiser, and Kind.” And, I believe, they still need us to be a “bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind” parent when they become teens.
Our children and teens need us to be “bigger,” not in size but in our level of maturity. They need us to be the “bigger person,” big enough to not get dragged into the drama of childhood tantrums, teen arguments, and temporary moods. They need us to be big enough to avoid “taking the bait” and endlessly engaging in unnecessary battles. Instead of “taking the bait” or getting drawn into the drama, they need us to be big enough to respond maturely from our values and our concern for their well-being, not our fears and our hurt feelings. Which leads me to…
Our children and teens need us to be “stronger,” not necessarily physically stronger but emotionally self-controlled. They need us to be strong enough that we are not overwhelmed by their emotions, not made insecure by their hurtful words, and not fearful of setting healthy boundaries for their safety. They need us to be strong enough to manage our own emotions, so we do not become overwhelmed by their emotions. They need us to provide a presence in which they can gain the strength to manage their emotions from our emotional strength. They need us to be strong enough to provide a safe haven from which they can experience and learn from their emotions. (How Does Your Family Feel About Emotions?)
Our children and teens need us to be “wiser.” They need us to be wise enough to know when something that upsets them is their responsibility and not our responsibility. Wise enough to know when to step back and let them find their own solution, suffer their own consequence, or enjoy their own reward. Wise enough to know when to encourage and support and wise enough to know when to actually step in to help. Wise enough to know when to let them go and when to keep them close Wise enough to allow their curiosity to blossom.
And, of course, our children need us to be “kind.” Our children need us to be kind enough to treat them with respect. Kind enough to give them our time and our attention, even if we might be a little frustrated with them. They need us to be kind enough to express our love to them in appropriate ways on a daily basis.
Remember, in relation to your children, it’s important to always be the “bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind” parent. Those qualities provide the scaffolding that will enable their healthy emotional, mental, and relational growth. (*I have not been trained or certified in the Circle of Security philosophy. As a result, I don’t present these thoughts representative of the thoughts of the Circle of Security group. For more information on their philosophy, I encourage you to visit their site. They offer an excellent parenting philosophy.)