This week a parent called us and described herself as a helicopter parent and her husband as a drill sergeant parent. She had heard about Love and Logic from a friend and wanted to know how to become a consultant parent. The single most powerful tool for combating the tendency to be a helicopter parent or drill sergeant parent is to memorize the following:
Oh, no. That's got to feel ___________. What do you think you are going to do?
The next time someone else’s problem comes your way, experiment by saying these words with sincere empathy. Simply fill in the blank with whatever emotion you're guessing the person is feeling. Then give suggestions while allowing the person to own and solve his or her problem.
Sincere Empathy Makes All the Difference!
We can hold our kids accountable for their poor decisions. We can expect them to own and solve the problems they create. Sincere empathy allows us to do these things without losing their love and respect. It also allows us to discipline without having to feel guilty.
Consultant Parenting (Love and Logic Parenting)
Consultants are always available to give suggestions and offer options. They also know when to zip their lips and let their clients make the final decision.
Consultant parents are willing to share alternative solutions to problems. They are willing to describe how they would solve the problem if it were their problem. Then consultant parents say, “It’s your life. You get to decide. Good luck!” Nothing more is said.
One crucial difference between consultant parents and helicopters or drill sergeants is ownership of a problem. Helicopters and drill sergeants both claim ownership of a child’s problem. Consultant parents let the child retain ownership. Allowing a child to keep ownership of a problem sends an implied message. That message is, “You are wise enough to make good decisions. I trust you to know how to handle this.” This implied message builds a child up instead of putting them down.
Three Rules of Consultant Parenting
Used regularly, these three simple rules can prevent power struggles. If you’d like to try being a consultant parent, I suggest you experiment with following rules:
- Take good care of yourself.
- Provide your child with choices you can live with.
- Take action.
When taking good care of yourself, you inform your child of what you are going to do, rather than tell them what they will do. When you provide options and alternatives, children use their energy to control their own lives. Be sure to follow through and allow your child to make their own choices. When you do this consistently, they start using their brains to weigh their choices and are too busy thinking to argue with you.
For more insight into how to overcome the tendency to be a helicopter parent or drill sergeant parent, and become a consultant parent instead, listen to our popular audio, Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants.
Thanks for reading!