What Are Your Evidence Indicators?
by Marni Parsons
PCI Certified Parent Coach®
As a parent I am always looking for even the smallest of evidence indicators that my values and morals are actually sinking into the character of my children. My oldest daughter will be graduating from high school this year, and I have been thinking a lot about how it is a parent really knows their child is ready to move out into the world. What evidence does a parent have so that they can feel secure in knowing they have taught their child what it is they need to meet the demands and challenges of leaving the nest? I believe that answer is different for every parent. I recently had such an evidence indicator, which I feel compelled to express as a proud moment. I now believe that my baby is as ready as she will ever be to leave the nest as the adult we dreamt of raising. The years of hard work and determination that my husband and I have spent loving and guiding our child are paying off.
As a parent it has been part of my dream to raise highly functioning individuals. I want them to make some sort of difference, I want them to be fulfilled emotionally and spiritually, and I want them to enjoy life, live passionately and to love deeply. The struggle has been in how I impart this when I am concerned about chores being done, pets being taken care of, homework being completed, tests being studied for, rooms being picked up, and thank you notes written? With the support and guidance of a PCI Certified Parent Coach®, the answer I have come to is this…I must worry less about the specific tasks and more about using those tasks to encourage and empower my girls towards greater personal responsibility to themselves, their parents, their teachers, their family and their friends. Because my intention has been clear I have been able to recognize it, as it becomes reality.
The evidence indicator I speak of appeared after my daughter had been internally struggling with a tough decision. She had not shared with me that she had a decision to make until she had thoroughly thought it out, and was ready to discuss her options and what she had decided for herself. It might be note worthy, that it has taken me many years to trust her process and have faith that she will come to me when she is ready to talk, and not one minute before. In this act I was able to see that she is a responsible young adult—just what I dreamed!
Responsibility can conjure various meanings to people, so for purposes here I propose that responsibility be defined as the opportunity to act independently and make decisions without authorization. As a PCI Certified Parent Coach® I support parents as they give age appropriate responsibilities to their children, and notice the evidence indicators when their children are growing through responsibility. When children are given responsibilities, and held accountable, they learn that they are a very special part of something greater than themselves. Thereby establishing a healthy sense of belonging and significance. As children are developing, the family is faced with many opportunities to impart responsibility. One of which is allowing a child to make age appropriate choices and decisions. When parents take the time to have open, honest dialogue about the consequences of any given choice we give children the opportunity to learn as they grow.
As children mature a parent may give more and more opportunities to the child to take responsibility, and allow for learning to take place, whether from natural or logical consequences. I have a friend who often says, "There are no bad decisions, only consequences." And this has been what I have often had to live by when I've realized that one of my daughters was grappling with a decision that held uncomfortable consequences. It has often proven difficult to avoid swooping in to rescue my daughter or over ride their choices all together. Quite frankly, at times has been very overwhelming. But now I'm experiencing enormous payoff. A tough choice has been made; the consequences remain to be seen, but regardless I know the decision was not an easy one for an 18 year old to make, but she did it. And I am so proud of the time and energy she put into thinking about herself, her friends, her family, and her teachers. I can rest a little easier now knowing that she is, in fact, going to be the adult I dreamed of raising.
What evidence indicators do you have that your child is becoming the adult you dream of raising?
Copyright © 2011 Marni Parsons, all rights reserved. Used with permission.Marni Parsons, PCI Certified Parent Coach®, Family Consultant & Positive Discipline Parent & Classroom Educator. To learn more about Marni and her work with families, please visit her Web site at www.acoach4parents.com—you can also sign up for the monthly "Joyful Parenting Newsletter" and download a free copy of 8 Strategies for Coping in Tough Parenting Situations.