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  • Steven Robinson
    Steven Robinson

    When Your Child is Transforming and Refuses Your Guiding Hand – Parenting Strategies To Take

    It’s a daunting moment when the time arrives for your child to cut its umbilical cords – the mental and physical ropes that have kept you together for years – and find its own way into adulthood. It’s a bittersweet experience - a time of nail-biting, but also hope that the young person you sent out into the world will flourish on its own.

    But what happens when the transformation of your child simply won’t cooperate with you? After all, isn’t a big part of being a parent guiding your child through this shift in life? Sadly, no matter how hard you try, your child may fight your parental advice every step of the way. So, what can you do as a parent when you’re in this very difficult situation?

    The first tip is to remember that it really is their life, not yours. While it’s natural to feel possessive and protective when your child transforms, it’s ultimately not up to you to determine the course of their life. Allow them the space they need to unfold into the person they want to become, even if it’s different from the person you see yourself in.

    At the same time, remind yourself that a parent is also about being an ever-present voice of reason during a difficult time. That doesn’t mean overwhelming your child with lectures or unhealthy pressure - but standing as a supportive pillar of encouragement from the sidelines. Answer questions when asked, and offer advice when you see something that could be dangerous or hurtful. Don’t be afraid to use tough love during moments of change, either - sometimes that’s exactly what a struggling child needs.

    Thirdly, embrace the differences between now and before. All parents are taught that change is inevitable, so don’t shy away from the differences. Radical scenes and new interests are normal in the process of transitioning, so be open-minded and take yourself out of your comfort zone. Participate in activities with your child - this can show them that you recognize and validate who they are today without judging the choices they make.

    Next, acknowledge your feelings of worry and helplessness that may arise. Transitioning is a fearful time for most families, and it’s OK to accept these anxieties for what they are. That doesn’t mean letting them overwhelm you, but to simply name them and let go when it’s best.

    Don’t forget to include yourself in the transition. You may not be directly part of your child’s journey, but ensure that you take moments away from the stress to contain and distill your own thoughts. A day at the beach, a quiet evening with a book, or just a few moments of meditation - these gives back to you the energy you need to be present for your child and cheer them on.

    Navigating the transformation of your child is tricky business, and it can be downright unfair at times. But as a parent, there are strategies you can put in place to make this difficult time just a little easier and more productive. Don’t expect everything to turn out perfectly, but do your best to give your child the tools they need to flutter their wings and fly.

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