The Bigger Picture

Karen Gillam, May 2011

Several parents have recently told me how much they have enjoyed Nigel Latta's recent tv series on teenagers. I have seen a few of them myself.. and was unable to resist cracking a smile..actually laughing hysterically ..through some of it. It has really got me thinking about this unpredictable journey we find ourselves on as parents. An important thing to evaluate during our parenting years, is what are we really aiming at..for ourselves, and our children? What is the big picture? We can so easily get caught up in the day-to-day conflicts and struggles and lose sight of what this is all about.

Sometimes when we are going through a particularly stressful phase of parenting, it can feel as if we are spinning round with a blindfold on. It is during these times that we need to keep a sense of what the bigger picture is. One thing that I have learnt through bringing up my own four teenagers, is that we as parents have a key role in modelling for our children. This is not all about control and dominating them, or insisting that they become small versions of ourselves, but rather keeping the long term vision of maintaining relationships with our children in mind. This is the bigger picture. It is all about keeping the relationship strong between our children and ourselves in the long term. We want to bring them up to be mature adults, who are relational, empathic, productive, and people we can eventually enjoy good relationship with.

One thing that can hinder this is when we become entangled with our children in day-to-day issues and conflicts. At times I have to remind myself that I am the adult here.. and they are still learning how to be. I am constantly sending powerful messages, modelling what it means to be an adult. If I retaliate to one of my children by calling them names, putting them down, or screaming back at them, I am modelling disrupted relationships and disrespect. The words and tones I use will stick with them, far more than their's will with me. If I use put-downs and insults, they will believe I feel this way about them, and it will have a lasting effect on our long term relationship.

I want to encourage all my fellow travellers out there in your own parenting journeys. Remember you are the adult and your children and teens will look to you and learn from you all about themselves, others, and how to relate within their own world. The legacy we want to leave our young ones is one of being able to enjoy one another in relationships long term. This will help them enjoy the benefits of healthy relationships in their own maturing and developing worlds as they launch into adulthood themselves.