– When I was your age, we didn’t have cell phones or laptops.
– When I was your age, we had to work for our spending money.
– When I was your age, kids respected their parents.
– When I was your age, I walked barefoot to and from school, uphill both ways.
“When I was your age…” is so often used to shame or guilt kids into seeing things their parents’ way. And goodness knows we could do a lot better at teaching our kids great values around consumption, hard work, technology and respect. But of course, that starts with our example. So it’s time to think back now, for yourself, about “when you were their age.” This time, think not about what you had or didn’t have, or what you withstood or triumphed over. Think about (choose those that apply) what it felt like to:
– Really want to watch more TV, and see no good reason why not
– Avoid your homework
– Start a new school
– Try and figure out how to make friends
– Compare yourself to your sibling and feel better or worse than
– Feel like you had to take care of your parent or wonder where your parent was
– Have a best friend move away
– Watch your parents get divorced
– Be scared about the future
– Not feel listened to
– Be bullied or abused
Some of you are actually still struggling with these feelings and issues and yet you forget what it was like to confront them as a kid, when you are parenting your own kids. Why? First, because you are wrapped up in your own life. You see most easily and readily from your own perspective. That’s why I am jarring you out of it. Second, you might not be taking care of yourself well enough to have attention to give and patience to extend. No martyr brownie points given out here. You owe it to your family to take care of yourself on every level. Third, you are unconsciously playing out your parents’ worst traits or reacting too strongly against them, resulting in regrettable parenting practices. Again, awareness is key. That’s why I am bringing it up.
Take a moment to write down what you aren’t taking care of with regard to your well-being and what traits you still hate about yourself that you know you learned at a parent’s knee. This goes for you even if you aren’t a parent! This is your work for the rest of 2011; I am challenging you to make a game of tackling it. Please share your story or ask for help right here on the blog.
I am doing a very special teleseminar on September 7th (8:30pm ET) on the topic of Parenting. We’ll take a deep look at who we are as parents and partners and take it up a notch. Please be there with us.