Are you a pushover parent? Do you find yourself giving in to your child’s pushing? Does your resolve weaken when it comes time to stick to your guns because you’re either too tired to follow through or you seem to have forgotten why you were upset in the first place?
As I’ve worked with parents over the years, many have said they struggle to control their anger with their kids and many have also admitted to being a pushover parent.
I tell parents all the time that building patience “muscles” is a must if they are to parent effectively. In the same way, resistance is a muscle that parents must develop so that they can stick to their guns and parent their kids in a way that truly helps their kids develop and grow.
Start with these four steps to help you resist the urge to be a pushover and become more intentional about your parenting.
Establish Core Values
The first step to avoid being a pushover parent is to know exactly WHY you are parenting the way you are. Have you ever asked yourself why you do what you are doing as you raise your kids? Many parents that I’ve worked with don’t; they just wing it every day, which means that what’s important one day to you may not be so important the next.
That’s why your family needs to have core values. Besides the fact that your kids need to know why you are asking or telling them to do certain things, those core values will help guide you in your parenting decisions and family priorities.
Start with listing five core value words and then expand them into statements of intention. For instance, if one of your core values is compassion, then your statement might be: We will show compassion to each other and to others we meet or know who may not even deserve it.
Once you’ve established your core values, have a family meeting to talk about them. You can even post them on the wall or fridge so you can refer to them often.
Set Boundaries and Consequences
After you’ve established your family’s core values, move on to setting boundaries and consequences. Boundaries are more specific and tangible than core values, although they may be closely related. For example, if your core value is compassion, a boundary that is closely related might by: We will not physically or verbally hurt one another. That boundary would cover physical fights and hateful words both in your home and outside with others.
As you discuss boundaries with your children, let them know what the consequences will be for crossing those boundaries. That means that you must think about it ahead of time and not just “wing it” when the boundary is ignored. Having a plan for your response will also mean that you don’t have to raise your voice or get angry. Or if you tend towards being a pushover parent, you don’t have to hesitate and even ignore it because you can’t think of what to do at the moment.
Parent for Tomorrow
Do you ever wonder what kind of adult your child will become? Do you think about the character traits you would like them to have when they are grown? As you parent day in and day out, you can be parenting for tomorrow when you strive to instill those desired character traits in your child every day. If you’ve thought about those long-term parenting goals, then you can use them to guide your parenting decisions each day.
I think one of the reasons that so many parents feel they are pushovers is because they haven’t really thought about what they are trying to achieve as they deal with parenting challenges. They are at a loss at what to do when their child acts a certain way, so they just ignore it or forget about it. This kind of parenting needs a backbone, meaning they need some goals to guide them and a plan for accomplishing those goals.
Respond, not React
If you have core values and boundaries, and if you’ve set consequences, then you will have more success when it comes to responding to your child, not reacting.
Reacting is simply a knee-jerk reaction. It may be the first thing that comes out of your mouth. It may look like anger or sarcasm or threats or comparison. More often than not, reacting is you simply venting your frustration.
Responding, on the other hand, is taking the time to think about your answer. Give yourself a breather, if you must. Come back to handle the issue when you’ve thought about what you really want your child to learn and how you can best help them learn it.
I’m pretty sure that what you say as an instant reaction and what you say after a 15-minute (or however long you need) pause will be two different things.
If you consider yourself a pushover parent, your kids know that, and they will continue to push, argue, and whine because they know you will give in. In the long run, your kids will not benefit from this type of parenting. Boundaries and core values will give them the foundation they need to grow into strong, secure adults.
If you’re tired of being a pushover parent, schedule a free intro call. I have some tools to help you get started on the road to recovery.