Parenting Dilemma: Listening Vs. Setting Boundaries

By Nymfa Aranas, Parent Herald February 11, 12:13 pm
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Do we listen to our kids when they share how they struggle with something or someone?
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I started disciplining my daughter when she was on the "terrible two" stage. One afternoon, I called her attention, "Phoebe, you listen to mommy..." She then strongly remarked, "No, you listen to Phoebe."

How should a mother of a two-year-old respond to such a strong-willed child's statement? Honestly, all I did was smile and wonder at how and why in the world it came from the mouth of a toddler like my daughter. Maybe I sounded too demanding to my child. Her demand, though, was but legitimate, for it's not easy for us to earn the right to be heard, unless we first give this right to our little ones.

How are you parents communicating with your kids?

Children are basically selfish by nature. Only when they feel that they are the apple of our eyes will they respond to our instructions and corrections. When they know that they are loved and they have our focused attention, then they will take hold of and enjoy that freedom to communicate with us on a deeper level. They talk; we listen. We talk; they listen.

Now it's the same with teenagers. That freedom of communication and deeper level of relationship with our teens can be both possible and advantageous for both parents and teens.

When do you set boundaries?

From my experience, however, the sense of empowerment that teens get from moms who listen well can reach its peak until you find it being abused. There's nothing wrong with your teens learning to regard you as their best friends. Who doesn't want to hear how they excitedly share about this and that victory? Who doesn't want to listen to their struggle with something or someone so we can give a piece of advice?

It's best to always be there to listen to our teens. But if they become too demanding to the point of trying to control or even manipulate, that's the time we have to show them that we're different. Hello! We're not one of the girls or their buddies.

We must draw the line from the start. We don't have to wait for too much familiarity and that feeling of being controlled. While we should listen on a horizontal level of communication in our family system, at times we have to go back to the vertical level, so as to choose to parent with the most effective style, which I believe is the authoritative way.

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