It’s been a good parenting week. I got to share a meal in a restaurant with my son before seeing him perform in a jazz concert. After that, I hopped on a train for a visit with my daughter, where we grazed in her favorite restaurants. I got to hear what my son’s current favorite classes are and what my daughter’s current book is about–the one she’s reading AND the one she’s writing!
Restaurants have always worked well for our family. We all love food, so restaurants are a lift for us. The noisy background always helped my daughter’s sound sensitivities, her misophonia making our chewing particularly difficult in quieter settings. We talk and ask questions and talk some more. In a restaurant, no one can leave as quickly as they might at home… it just works for us.
When parenting teens and young adults, I often encourage my clients to consider…. what works for you guys? What is your family’s sweet spot? In what settings do you hear the most from your kids? In what circumstances do they seem to warm to you? Once you figure it out, prioritize it!
Our teen and young adult kids are quickly moving into a purely consultative relationship with us. What do I mean? I mean that they will consult with us, heed our advice, or ask for support only on their terms when they want it increasingly as they become more independent. We cannot make them listen to us anymore, nor adopt our point of view or perspective. Perhaps we never really could, but there was certainly a time when they were far more influenceable!… when their need for us made them more open to us.
So, it becomes our job as parents to be as winsome and worthy of their trust as possible… and to be very, very clever about doing WHATEVER WORKS to stay engaged with them. This requires creativity and energy! We are fools if we don’t really assess what is and is not working to foster good connections.
So… I’ll keep spending money on restaurants with my kids. And if restaurants stop growing connectivity, I’ll work hard to figure out what does.
What’s your sweet spot with your kids? Keep doing it. It’s so worth it.