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Parents need to change before children can


Talk openly with parents, and they will share things they often worry about and maybe even would like to change about their child. A parent recently shared with me her concerns about her child’s significant moments of inflexibility, which creates considerable challenges for the whole family. I am aware these concerns have been troubling this mother for some time now; however, she seems to be in the same place. By that I mean, she continues to worry about it regularly and has not expressed any new ways of thinking about the behaviors or the family’s response to the situation.


This is a common phenomenon which led me to wonder how to help parents mobilize their strengths and abilities. Many of the parents I know are bright, decisive people in other areas of their lives, so why is it so challenging to be more action-oriented when it comes to parenting? Often times, parents have the benefit of a partner to discuss concerns, which one might think would help create a move toward action, yet this does not seem to be the case. After thinking about this from several angles, I realized it keeps coming back to our abilities to be self-aware. Luckily this is an area we all can improve upon.


Parents can develop the ability to catch moments of concern and become more proactive by simply acknowledging something is happening and choosing action over inaction. Steps can be small such as gathering more information, talking with a teacher or doctor, etc. These are small movements that begin a more extensive process and lead to growth, as well as change. Ruminating and being passive should not be options. We teach children and teens to be proactive and speak up for themselves so as adults this too should be our focus.


It is heartening to know, we can always learn more and seek more support to improve our perspective even if a situation itself is not able to shift. So, if you are unsure if you should do something about a concern, ask yourself if the thought/worry has been popping into your head often. If so, it is time for movement. If you are still unsure, ask a trusted friend or family member whom you know will be honest. Lastly, be honest with yourself and boldly step toward something. The following are some steps to think about if you are stuck and you choose to do something:


Write or talk about it
Seek support from trusted people
Gather more information and learn about it
Choose to do something and set a simple plan
Try something