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Am I Pushing my Child Away? Balancing Control and Freedom Part 2 by Gregory Bland

Mar 11th, 2010 | By | Category: Parenting

“You never trust me!”
“You never let me do anything!”
 “You don’t understand me!”
“I wished I was never born!”
“I hate you!”

These are statements that send a chill up a parent’s spine as they contemplate even the possibility of hearing them.   The good news is we don’t have to!  The above statements are verbal cues given by teens when relationship has regressed to a critical point and a transitional shift in parenting styles is overdue. 

There are typical and predictable warning signs that a shift in our parenting style needs to take place.  If we desire to be pro-active in our parenting, we can begin utilizing the heart, skills and disciplines of parent coaching with our children while they are young, greatly assisting both our child and ourselves in navigating the psychological transition from dependence upon us as the parents to independence.  (Much of our parent coaching model can be implemented pre-teen which will make the parental transition more natural and easier to navigate.)

Early signs that our children are growing in independence through pre-adolescence, are addressed in greater detail within the book “Pro-Active Parent Coaching:  Capturing the Heart of Your Child”. In this article we will focus upon the latter, more serious indicators which tell us that a shift in our parenting style is essential if we are to maintain and/or recover a healthy relationship with our children.   

Reminder:  The growth our children are experiencing is naturally moving them from dependence upon us as parents toward independence.    This is a normal and natural process for our children and can sometimes be misperceived as rebellion against our authority as parents. 

Honest Questioning:
Failing to embrace and partner with our children’s natural growth pattern as they mature will result in an honest questioning of our parental style.  These questions are prompted because of the mixed message they are receiving.   These questions are birthed because of the mixed message they are receiving.   Their natural growth pattern is communicating to them that they are maturing and growing in responsibility and ability to make decisions for themselves; but our parenting style is telling them that they are still children and need to be ‘told’ what to do.

Some of the familiar and predictable verbal cues we will being hearing come in the form of an honest questioning of our motives and thoughts.  Some of these questions may include but are not limited to,

How come you don’t ask me what I think about _____________?
Why doesn’t my opinion matter?
Why don’t you trust me?
Why are you always telling me what to do? 
How come I can’t make this decisions on my own?
Why do you always have to tell me what to do?
Why do you treat me like a little child?
Why don’t you ever listen to me? 
Why can’t you just let me make decisions and live with the consequences?

If we recognize these or similar questions from our children, take them to heart, slow down, and honestly assess where our children are in their developmental process.   Additionally, consider the possibility that if we do nothing at this point to recapture our child’s heart, our relationship will decline, and if neglected further the long term effects will be more difficult to recover from. 

Assessing the Situation:
Take a moment and assess the situation.  The words that we speak are a powerful indicator of what we truly believe within our hearts.  Words reflect belief, attitudes, intentions, and are very revealing to those who pay attention.    “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  (Luke 6:45)  If our children are beginning to communicate in this way, it may indicate a belief system that is forming within in their heart in relation to us as parents. (Be conscious of this in the next stage.)

These verbal cues have the potential to serve as a warning sign for us as parents that a developmental change is already well underway.  

Ask yourself:
What are my children thinking, feeling and perceiving?  (to gain a true understanding of this, the best person to ask would be them)
What have I done that has motivated these questions?
How have I approached my child that has initiated this response to me?
Does my child truly understand my heart and reasons behind the decisions I make as a parent?
Where are my children in their developmental and growth process? 
Is it possible that I have unintentially missed the early warning signs of change and need to re-evaluate and possibly change my approach to parenting? 
If so, what do I need to do as a parent to reconnect with my child and bring mutual understanding between us?
How can I connect with them and understand what is in their heart as they ask these questions?

Awkward Silence:
Failing to connect healthily with our children in the previous, honest questioning stage, we  may begin to experience an awkwardness within the home that is marked by an emotional disconnection, aloofness and growing silence. Despite the fact that we live under the same roof, we will feel like we do not ‘know’ one another.  If this continues unchecked, children will distance themselves further from us and begin alienating themselves from us altogether.  

Remember, our children are confused by the mixed message they are receiving.  Their natural growth process is telling them they are growing in independence and decision making capabilities, and our actions as parents are telling them they are still little children needing to be told what to do.

The Parental Offensive Maneuver:
When home life has progressed to this stage, there is a common parental reaction.  PUSH or engage them offensively so that we can get to the bottom of ‘their’ issue.
With this offensive maneuver we will experience just how deep the relational divide is through our children’s reaction to us.  We may hear more accusatory statements, or they may simply opt for running away perceiving us as the aggressor. 

(Notice the progression, starts out with honest questioning of the parents motives, when parents don’t respond in a healthy way, children naturally grow distant.  When push comes to shove, children express themselves not with questions but statements based upon their understanding of the situation or simply remove themselves from the confrontation all together.)

Accusatory Statements:
Some of the statements commonly heard at this stage are:
“You never trust me!”
“You never let me do anything!”
 “You don’t understand me!”
“You don’t care about me and what I like!”
“You never let me choose!”
“You expect me to be perfect!”
“You’re too controlling!”
“I can’t wait to move out of here, then I can live my own life!”
“I hate you!”

If we have progressed to this stage in our relationship and still fail to engage our children in a healthy manner, it has the potential to escalate into true rebellion against our authority. 

The sound of promise in all of this is, ‘We do not have to progress this far into relational ruin,’ the greater majority of this can be avoided!    Acknowledging and embracing the natural growth pattern of our children and accepting the responsibility we bear in parenting, assists us in co-operating with natural growth patterns and transition our parenting style more effectively and naturally.   Transitioning from a telling model of parenting to a coaching model will assist us in capturing and holding our children’s heart as we acknowledge and celebrate the growth journey we and our children are on. 

Join us next month as we look at healthy steps for reconnecting with our children who are at this critical transitional stage in life.      

 Until next time,
Your friend and Pro-ActiveParentCoach
Greg Bland

Please feel free to comment, interact with and offer your insights in relation to Am I Pushing my Child Away?  Balancing Control and Freedom.  Part 2

*Gregory and Lynn Bland currently reside in Nova Scotia, Canada and are actively coaching, writing and developing a course to train parents in Pro-ActiveParentCoaching.  Additionally they are providing interim pastoring for the Maritime District of the PAOC.  For more information check out Pro-ActiveParentCoaching or write to

Copyright 2010 Gregory Bland | Pro-ActiveParentCoaching | Nova Scotia | Canada |

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