“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother.” Ge 2:24 NIV
Healthy parenting calls for finding the right mix of autonomy with each of your children. Some kids distance sooner, some later; some take small tentative steps, some leap confidently into the gap. There are no “good” or “bad” kids when it comes to this, just more or less challenging ones. As a parent you discover by trial and error what works for you and your kids. Criticizing, controlling, threatening incarceration, preaching, shaming, etc., are futile, counterproductive, and a sign you have lost your grip. It will only increase their flight instinct, or make them feel insecure, as though no one is really at the helm. Pretending you have “got it together” as a parent is a well-intentioned but costly game. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of being honest and transparent with your kids. It’s less stressful for you both, and it’s much more effective. Kids know that they are imperfect—and they know you are too. So don’t be afraid to say, “I’m learning to parent growing kids, like you’re learning to be one. I need your help to be good at it, to discover what works for us both, and to help you be good at it too. Are you willing to be on the team and learn together?” That kind of honesty draws a positive response. It’s also good role-modeling, teaching them humility and cooperation. As coach and players united, focus on winning together and learning to improve, not on competing or dominating. Succeeding or failing as a family is all about learning and growing!