Parenting In the Age of Adversity
“Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore.”
The Wizard of Oz
Awaken - Everything has changed!
There are no experts, there are no guarantees.
We do not know what the future holds.
There are only loving parents doing the best they can with what they have. It is the “what you have” that has to change so you can prepare your children for whatever the future holds for them!
Resiliency and Education
Personal resiliency is the single most important indicator of success for students in the 21st century. Any school that makes resiliency a centre point in their students’ education is truly a light in a difficult world. A solid education based on good marks and an approved curriculum does not prepare students for life any more. High school graduation, a college diploma or university degree do not guarantee success in life.
We are now in an information based economy with restricted career paths and a globally competitive market. We need to prepare our children to find their way in this new world economy with their old world education. The primary purpose of education is to prepare the student for a meaningful life physically, mentally, socially and academically. Resiliency must be one of those factors in the process.
In order to survive in the 21st century, our children need inner strength to deal competently with the many challenges and demands they will encounter. We call this capacity to cope and feel competent, resilience. Although the word resilience has typically been applied to children who have overcome tragedy and hardship, it should be considered as a vital set of qualities for every child. Resiliency is highly correlated to success in the Age of Adversity. Too many parents over-rescue their children and deprive them of some vital lessons in life.
Co-partnership with Parents
Parents need to know that the school is not the end purpose. It is the means of preparing their children for life. The world has changed and is very different from when they were children. The day will come when their children must face life on their own and we need to prepare them properly for this transition.
Have you ever watched plants and trees in a big windstorm? Some of them barely move and others sway under the pressure of the wind and can be seen bending to the earth. Resiliency is all about how we weather the storms of life, adapt to change, flex and bounce back after a fall, and cope with fluctuations in the journey of life.
The qualities of a resilient mindset are essential. For hundreds of millions of children worldwide, daily adversities compromise their current and future well-being. A Resilient Mindset is a necessity for life in the 21st century. Instilling the qualities of a resilient outlook is perhaps the most important role of educators and parents. A Resilient Mindset is an investment in a child's future. I cannot think of a more important capacity to give our children than the ability to bounce back from whatever life sends them. This is called AQ or Adversity Quotient and it is frequently more important than IQ in determining the future happiness of our children.
Often I find that we are bringing our children up to be victims. I don’t mean real victims here but rather victims of their own thoughts. Many parents tend to over plan and under prepare their children for life. Too often parents buffer their children from the reasonable and natural consequences of their own actions. Parents that over protect or rescue their children rob them of the opportunity to develop a track record of success in dealing with the pitfalls of life. This often leaves a child without the self-worth and problem solving skills necessary to function in society.
Many children today cannot cope with disappointment, frustration or failure. They see these events as caused by something external to themselves and outside of their control. They look for something outside of themselves such as alcohol, drugs, entertainment or technology to make this go away.
Unnecessary parental intervention in the ordinary experiences of a child’s life can undermine their child’s emotional maturity and attempts at life mastery. These activities inadvertently reinforce messages to young people about being victims.
Every time a parent interferes with the reasonable and natural consequences of their child's own behavior they rob them of their destiny to grow. Way too many parents over rescue their children from the consequences of their own behaviour. I don’t want parents to totally stop rescuing their children. I only want them to cut back a little on it so the child can develop a track record of dealing with the challenges of life.
“Everything is here to teach us”
We must look for and find those Teachers in our own lives
and in the lives of our Children
Children need to experience the struggles of life within the protection and love of the family. In this manner they develop some experience in dealing with the inevitable vicissitudes of life and begin to realize that they can handle it without the need to escape.
Two of the most powerful things we can say to our children are: "I love you!” (and my love for you is not tied to your behaviour) and "You can deal with life." ( as a matter of fact, dear, you are going to have to deal with life)
Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are Roots and Wings. Roots are character and Wings is encouragement. In other words we need to give our children the tools and the incentives to be able to deal with life. There will be peaks and valleys, good days and bad days, success and failures, and they are all part of the decision to choose life and everything that goes with it.
We need additional teachers of life to support people in the challenges of parenting in the 21st century. These people can supplement and support what your students are learning in the classroom and at home with real time information and wisdom reflective of what is really happening in our society.
We can no longer seek the advice of doctors, scientists, therapists and spiritual leaders as our only source of guidance. We must also have an avenue or connection to what is happening right now and what can we learn from it. We need shopkeepers, counsellors, police officers, classroom teachers’ business people and grandparents to share their insights, wisdom and advice with us.
The Wisdom of Ascend and Descend
We have a crisis of wisdom in North America.
Many people have information but few seem to have wisdom. Our children are growing up informed but unwise. They are trying to cope without being able to navigate.
Life is not about the socially approved continuing road of success, goals, achievements and victories. It is instead, a cycle of good days and bad days, peaks and valleys, personal victories and private defeats and they are all there to teach us. Somewhere we have forgotten this wisdom. An expectation of a continuous ascent without the lesson of the inevitable descent, does not prepare anyone for life. It only crashes the stock market, devastates the environment and leads to an expectation of an unsustainable future.
Growth only takes place outside our comfort zone. Our children need a dose of occasional discomfort, a pinch of insecurity and a large measure of struggle to develop the character and strength to navigate in the valleys of life. Circumstances don’t determine us, they reveal us.
We give assurances too quickly, remove pain too easily and are too quick to satisfy, entertain or numb out the mind. Often we just have too much and we over satisfy our needs avoiding the necessary learning in life. We get rid of the pain before we have learned what it has to teach us.
We cannot avoid the difficult periods of life. The dark moments are necessary, inevitable and are good teachers.
Ultimately, only life teaches. Instruction, theories, games and simulations are guides but life in the real word is always the test. It includes struggle, stumbling and failure as well as success and advances.
Resiliency is the ability to stay with the pain of life without answers, without conclusions and some days without meaning but never without hope.
Presentations for Parents
Raising Resilient Children: How and when to stop over-rescuing your children and start preparing them for life.
Raising Resilient Children 2: Specific effectivestrategies that create resiliency in children.
Have You Ever Had A Bad Day? Stress management and Personal Resiliency for Parents.
Parenting Teens: Mission Possible - key reality based parenting strategies that will effectively prepare your teens for the challenges of today’s world. Relationship building and keeping the doors of communication open.
How to Live Your Life When Your Children Can’t Live Theirs:
Parenting for people with developmentally delayed and physically challenged children.
Preparing your children for the Real World Reality of Real time Living: Key reality-based parenting strategies that will prepare your teens for the realities of post-secondary life at school or in the work place.
Conscious Parenting - becoming aware of your own thoughts, emotions and behaviors that influence the life of your child.
Keeping Your Children Safe in your communities: This presentation includes important things to discuss with your child when to talk to your child about their safety and specific tips for keeping your child safe
Cyber safety for adults and children: This presentation will provide parents some insight to the perils of the Internet. It will also discuss ways to keep your kids safe when they are using the Internet or Smartphones.
Individual and family consultation for developing Resilient Children.