Sometimes, a parent may feel like they’re doing everything right but despite their best efforts, their child or teen continues to not listen, has behavioral issues or is still struggling with an issue that the parent has been trying to help him or her resolve.
I often hear parents say:
“I’m doing everything that I’ve been told to do, but it doesn’t seem to work for my child.”
“My son refuses to listen.”
“She listens to everyone but me.”
“You tell her. She’ll listen to you.”
The reality is that kids need to hear from their parents, but they sometimes need to hear from others too.
Find people whom you trust.
People often say that “it takes a village to raise a child.” There’s a lot of truth in this statement. Having a network of trusted people provides parents and children with a safe place for sharing and processing thoughts.
I recommend that families make a list of people who they can trust and talk to. While it’s fine to have some of the people on your list be close friends and family, it’s also beneficial to have people who are more neutral such as a pastor, rabbi, counselor or therapist. These handful of trusted adults gives you and your child safe places to turn to when you need a listening ear. Ideally, it’s nice to have at least 3-5 trusted adults in your “village” that can provide support for the different areas of your lives (school, family, friendships and other matters).
These trusted adults should be people who:
- Listen and give input
- Make you feel safe and comfortable sharing about what’s really going on in your lives
- Offer wisdom when life gets confusing
- Care about your best interests
The trusted adults in your “village” helps support you in raising an emotionally healthy child.
It’s also important to note that the perspective, attitude and even reaction to different issues may change when a child is not talking to their own parent and vice versa, which is another reason to have a “village.”
Some kids refuse to listen when their parents try to help them with their homework, but when someone else tries to help them, perhaps even in the same way, the child begins to listen and their “I can’t do this attitude” goes away.
Often, though, it’s not just the child. While the child’s negative attitude may be more apparent, a parent may also display different behavior when helping their child with homework versus if they were helping someone else. Sometimes this happens because a parent may have a preconceived notion that their child will not listen because of past occurrences or because of any negative behavior leading up to helping with the homework.
Homework is just one example of how perspectives, attitudes and reactions can change when it’s someone other than the parent or child. The same truth can be seen when discussing issues that involve friendships, boyfriends or girlfriends, bullying and even preparing for college.
Consistency is always key.
It’s important to communicate with those in your “village” who are involved in your child’s life, to ensure some consistency in the guidance that your child is receiving. For an example, if your child has been speaking to a teacher or counselor about issues that he or she is having, you should also regularly check in with that person to make sure that you’re both guiding your child in the same direction. It’s important to note; however, that this does not mean betraying your child’s trust.
You and your child should both have trusted adults who you feel comfortable sharing things in confidence – meaning that your child may share something with another trusted adult that they’re not ready to share with you. It’s important to respect this and not demand that whatever your child shared in confidence is shared with you.
Seeking help does not make you a bad parent.
When you seek help for your child, you do it because you care – and that’s not being a bad parent. Your child needs others who he or she can feel comfortable talking to – and so do you. There should be no shame in turning to someone in your trusted network to provide you and your child with guidance for addressing issues.
If you’re uncertain on how to best guide your child or teen through an issue that he or she is facing or the issue is beginning to affect their well-being and/or is not getting resolved, it’s important to seek professional help. Therapy can help build stronger family bonds, resolve conflict and establish healthy communication skills among family members.
About the Author:
Danielle Matthew is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who helps adolescents, adults, couples and families who are in pain due to issues such as anxiety, severe stress, low self-esteem, or depression. With over 20 years of experience, Danielle authored Amazon Parenting Best-Seller, The Empowered Child: How to Help Your Child Cope, Communicate, and Conquer Bullying, and is the Director of The Empowerment Space Bullying Therapy Program in Los Angeles. Featured in Huffington Post and TODAY.com, Danielle has appeared on Fox, ABC and CBS Morning Shows and Mom Talk Radio, and is the expert contributor to Washington Post’s article: “Kids love to ‘roast’ each other. But when does good-natured teasing become bullying?”