By Lisa Smith
I am in a few moms’ group on Facebook and I see moms asking for parenting advice in the form of questions like: What should I do or what would you do in X situation.
I am not a fan of asking this at all. Here is a question that I saw asked just today:
“At what age would you send your child to a six day summer camp (overnights)?”
Seems innocuous, right? She wants to know so she asks, right? You might be thinking, “Lisa, what is your problem with this?”
The problem with asking is:
1. Asking other people for their input perpetuates our lack of confidence in our parenting.
2. Asking other people takes us away from strengthening our internal compass (we are asking others what they would do and most of these people we barely know).
3. When we ask questions like this, we get any and all answers.
One woman wrote, “I wouldn’t send my kids until they are 18.” Maybe she is a helicopter parent and doesn’t let her kids out of her sight (no judgement from me) but let’s say you are trying to raise independent, outdoorsy kids who love adventure. Well then her opinion isn’t one you want in your head, is it?
And now you have all these gremlins running around in your head. And you are more confused than ever. Maybe you got the answer you were looking for (external compass) and feel justified in telling your 12 year old daughter that she is going; that the decision is made and she is going. But you can’t articulate why you want her to go and without knowing if you are teaching her to rely on her external compass.
See where I am coming from?
So here are my top three questions I do think we should ask OURSELVES when we aren’t sure what to do.
1. Why am I interested in X? (in this case sending my kid to summer camp)
Maybe I always wanted to but never got to go to sleep away camp.
Maybe my child really wants to go.
Maybe my sister and I, who live away from each other, want our kids to go together and share time and this experience
Maybe I need a break and this sounds like a fun way to give both me and my child an extended break. Nothing wrong with owning this—I am a big believe in self-care!
Maybe I would like my child to put her phone away, get out of her box, make some new friends, broaden her horizons and try some new things.
2. What do I want to accomplish with X?
Become better at X (singing, sports, art, acting, archery, boy scouts, leadership)
A break from “regular” life
Learn independence—getting around on their own, taking care of themselves, hygiene (is there hygiene at camp?
Maybe I loved the experience of sleep away camp and want my child to have the same experience?
3. How does this fit into our family values?
I value experiences over things.
I value adventure.
I value the outdoors.
I value trying new things.
I value a break from each other and a chance to restore.
So in summary, we are looking within for what feels right for us and our families, based on our family values and interests. It is really that simple to get still and quiet and check in with ourselves and make sure we are clear about our motives and goals. This helps better understand how the decision supports our family values.
Lastly, if you do want input from others, I recommend asking only after you can answer these questions and only ask those that seem like minded to your family values.
Lisa Smith is a mom, certified parent coach and international best selling author of, The Angry Parent: How to Find Peace in Your Parenting Through the Message of Anger. When she is not coaching, you’ll most likely find her at a basketball game rooting on her son or traveling somewhere new. She is obsessed with cross-fit, personal development and romance novels.
Her free Peaceful Parenting mini-course, full of tools, tips and support has been enjoyed by parents all over the world.
This article was previously published on the author’s blog.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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