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Positive Parenting Outline: Birth to Teens to Launch

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I am a positive parenting coach (among other topics) who helps guide and encourage parents and their children toward their best lives. Here are a few immutables of being a positive parent:

  • attachment parenting values the connection over the discipline
  • emotional intelligence is the gift of positive parenting
  • your kids are going to change, you can remain consistent
  • childbirth should change your fundamental DNA, you become a parent
  • kids can be tough, loving, and firm
  • understanding your child is about joining in their passions (sports, music, arts)
  • marriages come and go, parenting is forever

What Can I Do To Be a Better Parent?

It’s a common question. If you’re connected and motivated, you want to do the best for your children. There are parents who fall outside that spectrum of care, however. Their goal is to mold the kids to their lifestyle and structure. These parents are often affluent, active, sporting, and narcissistic. The hedonism of “me first and then my kids” is part of our toxic culture. The rich can and do farm out their parenting to disastrous results. You’re going to need your own connection to your kids. To care about them when they are being their worst teenage selves. You’re going to need a deep connection and an iron resolve to remain loving.

From birth to school are the glory years of parenting. Any relationship trouble was power-washed away by our two lovely kids. Our entertainment was watching and playing with our kids. Our priorities were focused on their activities, their enrichment, and their learning. Joining together to parent is a powerful bonding journey for most parents. It’s important in the early years to lean into them with closeness and love. Make sure you’re kids are covered in kisses, hugs, and affirmations. You’ll need that bond as their demands and reprimands become more challenging.

As our kids enter their elementary and middle school ages the social pressures and friend groups will start to change their priorities. Limitless weekends with your kids get interrupted by playdates, sleepovers, and other kid joys. It’s at this point that parents can often lose sight of their own relationship struggles. If either parent fails to rejoin and rekindle the love relationship all bets are off. Let’s stay connected with our kids AND connected with our spouses. Eventually, the kids will move on, and your parent partner will become the focus again. If you’ve neglected to rebuild a loving connection with your co-parent then struggles are in the forecast.

Escape Velocity

As our kids begin leaving our homes for college and beyond, the strong bond you have created will start to pay dividends. You need all the connection you can muster when you kids start the escape journey toward their adult lives. If you have easy conversations with them, things are going to be easier. If they trust they can talk to you about difficulties they will see you as an advocate and a supportive resource. If you were the heavy hand in the parenting process, they may avoid talking to you. Play fair, parent with attachment, and keep as close as your kids will let you.

My kids are now 20 and 22 and they are making their way towards emerging from college with some confidence into their chosen fields of study/work. It’s been a challenging time, but a reward for me being a single dad. Since I was not their primary disciplinarian I have a more relaxed relationship with my kids. They will tell me stuff they’d never reveal to their mom. It’s the difference between warmth and understanding vs. cold Excel budget maps.

Letting Our Kids Grow

I have always been an attachment parenting advocate. I wish I’d had more connections with my mom and dad. Not what I got, but what I understand as the most critical path of parenting. Stay connected. Stay trusted. Discipline fairly. And reconnect, rejoin, and reaffirm your love and support for them on all steps of their journey.

It’s easy to see how we would be loving and supportive of a toddler. But lock that kid in their own room blasting Taylor Swift at 11 pm on a school night and you’re going to see a different side of parenting. Teens can be tough. But they are tougher if you’re attachment is filled with anger, resentment, and frustration. You’ve got to let your kids go. You’ve got to reinvent your life, and your partnership. If your marriage is awful, you’ve got to look at your next 20 – 30 years.

Do you want to be the always-angry parent?

As my kids were released from their mom’s house they became more accessible. Our partnerships are different between my son and my daughter, but we’re all on the same page about love and staying close. I struggle a bit more with my son, but that’s probably father/son stuff, and an extended differentiation phase. I’m happy. I’m proud. And I’m grateful for the divorce, 13 years ago, that allowed me to grow into the dad I am now.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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