I Know

It’s Wednesday morning, December 16, and in just a few hours you will receive this message in your Inbox.

As I wrote in last week’s post, my 89-year-old father had major surgery last Tuesday. He was initially doing well following the surgery, but he experienced a serious setback over the weekend. Fortunately, he is back on track and we are looking forward to a dismissal in the days to come.

Through it all, my priority has been making sure my dad knows he can count on me. I want him to know I am in his corner advocating for him and his healthcare needs and cheering him on through the setbacks. It has required much of my time and attention this past week of which I was more than willing to give.

As I lay in bed this morning, I realized that in the midst of all that has been going on with my dad, I had not written today’s blog. I wondered what I could write or say with the little time I had.

It didn’t take long for an idea to come to mind. It’s something I’ve been wanting to say for quite some time and now seems like the best time to say it to you…

I know this past year has not gone like it was supposed to go. You miss the “normal” ways you do what you do. You miss seeing those you work with or serve in-person. You miss hugs, gentle touches and seeing the smiles behind the masks.

I know you have had to learn new ways to do what you do. All the technology you have had to learn to use has been confusing and frustrating. And perhaps you have had to learn all of this, alone, within the confines of your home.

I know you have experienced your share of major distractions while doing your job whether it be from home or on-site. You have had to figure out how to care for your infant or toddler or supervise your school-age children’s remote learning – all while trying to be a great employee yourself.

You have been worried. I know you have been. The worries have been endless. You’ve been worried about how you were going to pay the bills if you were furloughed or lost your job. Worried about keeping a roof over your head or putting food on the table. Worried about contracting the coronavirus. Worried about those who did contract the virus and those who lost a loved one because of it. Worried about the well-being of the students, families or clients you work with. Worried about the family and friends you were unable to see or care for in-person. There’s been so many worries.

I know you’ve been discouraged. Maybe you are still discouraged. You wonder when, or even if, life will ever feel normal again.

I know you are tired. You are physically, emotionally, mentally and socially exhausted. It’s been a long and daunting year.

You’ve experienced loss. The loss of routines, social activities, relationships, employment, or even the loss of loved ones. I know it’s why you have felt sadness or grief.

It’s been a really challenging year for you.

I don’t know your whole story, but I want you to know I still understand. I care.

I believe in you. You have talents and gifts that are important and appreciated. Your worth is immeasurable.

Give yourself credit. You have made it this far into the pandemic and while it hasn’t been easy or without its challenges, you are still here, fighting and pushing forward. So please, don’t give up. You’ve got this!

Please also know that I am here for you. I’m in your corner. And just as I am for my dad, I am committed to being an advocate and cheerleader for YOU. You can count on it.

My wish for you today is that you find moments of joy, gratitude and love during the holidays. May you find some respite in the weeks to come and start the new year with a refreshed body, mind and spirit.

Thank you for being YOU and for making a difference in your corner of the world.

Happy holidays!

P.S. Thank you for all the well wishes for my dad. I truly believe it’s why he has overcome so much this past week. I want you to also know that I will be taking a 2-week respite myself and will not be writing my blog during this time. But, I will be back with my first blog of 2021 on January 6!  Cheers to a new year and a new beginning!                       

Giving the Gift Back

It’s Tuesday, December 8, and I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now writing this blog with a lot on my mind and my heart.

My 89-year-old father is having major surgery to remove a kidney and the ureter attached to it due to tumors inside the ureter. He has bladder cancer that has spread into the ureter. When he was given the diagnosis a few months ago, he was given two options…do nothing or have surgery. He chose the second option and so today the surgery is happening.

As my Dad’s health partner, I’ve sat in hospital waiting rooms during numerous surgeries as we have journeyed through a multitude of health issues together these past 18 months.

But today, the waiting is different. My mind is in a different place than it has been in the past.

So, if my blog seems a bit disjointed and my thoughts appear random, let me ask for your grace and understanding upfront. I’m writing from my heart and not so much from my head today.

In my recent parenting blog series, I’ve talked about the influence a parent can have on their own kids through their own modeling of behavior and how we tend to parent the way we were parented. The title of last week’s blog, , speaks directly to this overall message…

How you parent is a gift that will keep on giving in the years to come. Make it a gift worth opening and keeping.

Sitting in this moment of time and space right now, knowing my Dad is in a high-risk surgery, I find myself reminiscing about him as my father over the years.

Last week’s blog explored four different parenting styles and revealed that authoritative parenting is the most effective style to use as a parent.

Fortunately for me, my dad was an authoritative parent. The qualities describing authoritative parenting describe my dad. And, every proven benefit for kids who have an authoritative parent, I received them.

I’m by no means a perfect parent and as much as I think my dad is, he, too, would argue that he isn’t.

Parenting isn’t always perfect. Much of the time it’s a guessing game and a whole lot of experimentation. Sometimes we get it right and other times we don’t.

I’m lucky enough that my dad got it right most of the time.

Sitting here today in the coffee shop and thinking more deeply about my relationship with my dad, I realize that he is still parenting me as much as he did when I was a young child.

He continues to be an authoritative parent. He is nurturing, loving and caring. He encourages open discussions and provides wisdom and guidance. He still has high expectations of me and doesn’t hesitate to express them. While he doesn’t set boundaries and rules for me anymore, I am keenly aware of how his quiet influence guides most everything I do. I respect him and his opinion of me matters just as much as it ever did – if not more.

My dad has not quit being a parent to me despite his age or fragile health. The saying, “Once a parent, always a parent”, is so true.

No matter what today’s outcome is with the surgery and recovery, my dad has given me one of the best gifts in life he could ever give. The gift of parenting. I received this gift on the day each of my two children were born. Little did I know at the time, that I opened this gift from my dad on both of these occasions. Not only did I keep the gift, but I have used it every day since then with both of my children.

Now, the time has come for me to give the gift back to him, as together, we parent each other.

With My Dad Before His Surgery

P.S. Thank you for letting me share my story with you. I know that not everyone is blessed with a parent as a positive role model or an aging parent who is capable of being the positive parent they have always been, so I do not take for granted this blessing in my life that I call, “Dad.”

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Because I said so!”

“Whatever you want.”

“I really don’t care.”

“Let’s talk about it.”

Which of these phrases most resonate with you and the way you were parented as a child?

If you are a parent, which of these phrases do you most say to your own child?

If you’re a parent and you’re like me, you probably find yourself saying things to your child that you heard your own parents say to you – whether it’s intentional or not. Research shows that we are more likely to parent based on the parenting style we grew up with.

There are four parenting styles researchers have identified as being common among parents:

    • Authoritarian
    • Permissive
    • Uninvolved
    • Authoritative

Each style takes a different approach to raising children and can be identified by a number of different characteristics. Each style has also shown to have different effects on children.

I’m going to summarize each of the four parenting styles, and as I do, think about which style most describes you as a parent or how you were parented as a child:

Authoritarian Parenting

    • You believe kids should be seen and not heard.
    • When it comes to rules, you believe it’s “my way or the highway.”
    • You don’t take your child’s feelings into consideration.

Do any of these statements sound like you? If so, you might be an authoritarian parent.

Parents with this style are typically less nurturing.

Authoritarian parents believe kids should follow the rules without exception. Expectations are high with limited flexibility and they demand obedience with little negotiation possible.

Authoritarian parents are famous for saying, “Because I said so,” when a child questions a rule or expectation. They make the rules and enforce the consequences with no explanation and little regard for a child’s opinion. They only allow one-way communication and any attempt to reason with them is usually seen as backtalk.

Stern discipline and harsh punishment are common with authoritarian parents. Authoritarian parents are invested in making kids feel sorry for their mistakes and making sure the child understands the parent is in control and has the authority.

Children whose parents have an authoritarian parenting style tend to:

    • Have an unhappy disposition.
    • Be less independent.
    • Appear insecure.
    • Possess low self-esteem.
    • Perform worse academically.
    • Have poorer social skills.
    • Be more prone to mental health issues.
    • ​Be more likely to engage in substance use and other problem behaviors.
    • Have worse coping mechanisms​​.

Permissive Parenting

    • You set rules, but rarely enforce them.
    • You don’t give out consequences very often.
    • You think your child will learn best with little interference from you.

Do any of these statements sound like you? If they sound familiar, you might be a permissive parent.

Parents in this category tend to be warm and nurturing.

However, permissive parents are more like friends than parents to their child. Communication is open and they encourage their children to talk with them about their problems, but they offer limited guidance and direction and let their children figure problems out on their own. They tend to only step in when there is a serious problem.

Permissive parents mostly let their children do what they want and have the attitude of “kids will be kids.” They are lenient and do not like to say, “no”, or disappoint their child. They set very few rules and boundaries and they are reluctant to enforce them.

When permissive parents do use consequences, they may not make those consequences stick. They might give privileges back or allow a child to get out of a grounding or time-out early.

Children of permissive parenting tend to have the worst outcomes as they:

    • Cannot follow rules.
    • Have the worse self-control.
    • Are at high-risk for engaging in delinquent and other problem behaviors.
    • Possess egocentric tendencies.
    • Encounter more problems in relationships and social interactions.

Uninvolved Parenting

    • You don’t ask your child about school or homework.
    • You rarely know where your child is or who they are with.
    • You don’t spend much time with your child.

Do any of these statements sound familiar? If they do, you might be an uninvolved parent.

This group of parents offers little nurturing.

Uninvolved parents use no particular discipline style. They do not set high standards or firm boundaries for behavior. They give their child a lot of freedom, let them do what they want and generally stay out of their way. Communication is limited, and as a result, they have little knowledge of what their children are doing or who they are with.

Uninvolved parents are indifferent to their children’s needs and uninvolved in their lives. They adopt an attitude that the child can raise themselves.

Some parents may make a conscious decision to parent in this way. While for others, being an uninvolved parent, is not intentional. Some parents simply lack knowledge about child development and are unsure of what to do. Sometimes a parent falls into this category because they are overwhelmed with other problems, like work, paying bills, managing a household or dealing with their own mental or physical health issues.

Children raised by uninvolved parents:

    • Are more impulsive.
    • Cannot self-regulate emotion.
    • Encounter more delinquency and addictions problems.
    • Have more mental health issues, such as suicidal behavior.

Authoritative Parenting

    • You put a lot of effort into creating and maintaining a positive relationship with your child.
    • You explain the reasons behind your rules and expectations.
    • You enforce rules and give consequences, but also take your child’s feelings into consideration.

Do any of these statements sound like you? If those statements sound familiar, you may be an authoritative parent.

Authoritative parents are warm and nurturing.

They are supportive and provide their children with autonomy and encourage independence while also having high expectations and rules that have been clearly stated.

Authoritative parents enforce boundaries and discipline by having open discussion, providing guidance and using reasoning.

This parenting style is also known as the democratic parenting style. Communication is important to authoritative parents. They take their children’s opinions into account by allowing their kids to have input. They validate their children’s feelings while also making it clear that the adults are ultimately in charge.

Researchers have found kids who have authoritative parents:

  • Are more independent.
  • Achieve higher academic success​.
  • Develop good self-esteem.
  • Interact with peers using competent social skills​.
  • Have better mental health — less depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, delinquency and alcohol and drug use​​.
  • Exhibit less violent tendencies​​.

Few of us fit neatly into one single parenting style, but rather raise children using a combination of styles. So, don’t fret if there are times or areas where you tend to be permissive and other times when you are more authoritative. Think of the four styles as a continuum instead of four distinct ways to parent. We need to think about our children and what they need from us at specific points in time. For example, while you might not typically adopt an authoritarian parenting style, there might be times in your child’s life when that style is needed. And sometimes, our parenting is a mix of several styles and we don’t clearly fall into one distinct category.

What is important to know is that the studies are clear – authoritative parenting is the most effective parenting style. While it is easier for children when both parents practice the authoritative style of parenting, some research shows that if at least one parent is authoritative, that is better for the child than having two parents with the same, less effective style.

But even if you tend to identify with other parenting styles more, there are steps you can take to become a more authoritative parent. With dedication and commitment to being the best parent you can be, you can maintain a positive relationship with your child while still establishing your authority in a healthy manner. And over time, your child will personally reap the benefits of your authoritative style and will very likely parent their children some day in the same way.

How you parent is a gift that will keep on giving in the years to come. Make it a gift worth opening and keeping.