“Growing up is a promise you can promise yourself.” Who spoke these words? (Plato, Aristotle, Longfellow?) No, this is what a four-year-old boy told me during a counseling meeting. This precocious wisdom isn’t merely amusing; it’s life-changing and isn’t rare at all. A sensitive seven-year-old boy said, “I understand growing up now; it’s about niceness and it’s a very fun way to live.” A still-so-small six-year-old girl speaking about her mother’s return to work said, “I know I can’t keep crying my whole life.” A red-haired, freckle-faced nine-year-old girl jumped out of her chair during our first meeting and announced, “I’ll just get rid of the fits and grow up.” “You have to pull trouble out by the roots; you can’t just knock the tops off.” That’s right, the words of an earnest 12-year-old boy.
Kids and teens will be cooperative, insightful, and decisive about getting on with growing up when the life stage is set. My upcoming book, Ask! Ask! Ask! –Quality Questions to Help Kids and Teens Be Self-Reliant, not only helps parents “set the stage,” it also removes some of the felt pressure that “good parents” are supposed to know what to do during every child-raising adventure.
Parents will be invited to “drop out” of the telling-and-managing-children business and into the asking business, with the purpose of guiding their children on the self-reliance pathway.
Kids and teens then become the self-responsible, self-confident, self-motivated, self-accepting and, ultimately, self-reliant “experts” in their lives. Imagine parents associating pleasure with handling their children’s growing up, rather than believing age-stage stereotypes and seeing it as a painful collision of wills.
Change and confusion are the constants in modern-day living, making self-reliance more important than ever, and it can begin in early childhood. Self-reliance provides the stabilizing foundation that enables kids and teens to successfully run their lives. Our modern world is difficult to navigate. Notable and confounding issues include: the high divorce rate and separation of families, young adults returning to live with their parents, a lack of time for both parenting and working, and increased mobility leading to cultural diversity and a concomitant confusion of values. The road to self-reliance land is continuously lined with getting-on-with-growing up tasks and adventures. There is little in the way of a practical and concrete road map for the child traveler. I provide a fresh, kids-and-teens-in-mind-first “road map” using unique, engaging language and simple, precise questions.