146: Your Child is Not Your Enemy

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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Our culture seems to dictate that parents should have control over their kids. We should command them and they should comply. But this authoritarian parent-child relationship is harmful and not at all helpful. It sets us up to see our kids as our enemies — a mindset that is enormously damaging and actually makes our kids’ behavior worse. In this episode of the Podcast, I’ll outline how to get on the same team as your child and show you how that positively impacts your child’s behavior, self-worth, and success. 


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Penny Williams 0:03

I encourage you to step back and think about what you really want for your child and for your Parenthood. Do you want to control your kid? Or do you want to help your kid? And I think when you ask yourself that question that bluntly, the answer is always going to be while I want to help my kid.

Intro 0:24

Welcome to the parenting ADHD Podcast, where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, ADHD a Holic and mindset Mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your a typical kid. Let's get started.

Penny Williams 0:52

Welcome back to the parenting ADHD podcast, I want to talk to you today about how your child is not your enemy, your child is not your enemy. And it feels like it sometimes right, we get very caught up in this idea that we need to control our children, we should have control over our children, because that shows the world that we're a good parent, this is our culture. And it is so far from correct, that it's not even anywhere near we have this traditional idea of parenting that where the authoritarian, we make commandments, and we control our kids. That's what we're taught parenting is that's our cultural thriller culture says, and it blows my mind, guys, it blows my mind, I do not understand why we think we need to control our kids. How is that raising them to be compassionate adults, successful adults, adults who give back to their community in the world, and they care about others, that doesn't teach them any of the things that we want or need them to learn to be good adults, I don't want to say good adults, but you know what I mean, to be happy and healthy and fulfilled. And that's really what's most important, that's what we all want most is to feel like we have a purpose, and we're fulfilled.

If someone is just controlling me and commanding me to do things, I have no autonomy in that I am not an individual in that I am lost, there is no me in that. It's all about the person who is commanding and controlling me. So that authoritarian relationship with our kids is so very troubling. And it sets us up to look at it as though it's me versus them. Parent versus child, I must have control, I must make them who I think they should be. And that's a very combatant way of looking at it. That's a very friction filled relationship with your child. They're not your enemy. They're this wonderful little person, that you are trying to help be the best of who they are, and to be happy and fulfilled and find their purpose in the world. If you're just telling them what to do and how to do it. How would they ever find that? They can't.

And so our job as parents is to work with our kids in a collaborative way to honor who they are and where they are. What is a strength for them? What is a struggle for them? What do they enjoy? What do they have a passion around, what information causes them to want to learn more, and to grow? Those are the things that we want to be encouraging. And that's the relationship that we want to have with our kids. Again, your child is not your enemy. So if I'm an authoritarian parent, my child is having a hard time with his homework. And I just really wish he would just buckle down, Quit whining and complaining and do the work. That's all I want in the world. As for it to be a much easier process right? And much easier for me and for him. And if I get upset with him about it and say, just cut the crap and get it done. I've taken every bit of him away, right? But I've also really set up this contentious environment. I have set the tone for battle. I've set the tone for battle because

I'm not hearing him, I'm not seeing him. I'm not trying to help him. And so there's friction, tons and tons of friction. And now we are going to battle. Because now that I have said to him, quit your whining and complaining and just get it done. Now, his quills have gone up, right? He's on alert, he feels endangered in some way, even if it's just emotionally, and now he is ready to fight back. Because that's what our bodies are wired to do. our nervous system is going to automatically respond when we perceive danger. so in this situation, I have instantly set us up to battle, and set him up to feel threatened. And when kids feel threatened, they are going to fight flight, or freeze, right, they're gonna fight, they're gonna flee the situation, or they're just going to shut down and freeze. And that's not what we want. Right now we're getting nowhere. homeworks not getting done, I feel bad, my son feels bad. We're battling like this is just gone off the rails, right. And it's because I was seeing that situation as something I needed to control. And him whining and complaining, made him my enemy in my mind, right, I just needed him to do what I needed him to do. And anything outside of that meant that he was an enemy of mine.

And you can see how this mindset really sets us up for so much drama, so much heartache, so much fighting, and a complete lack of actually getting things done and feeling good for everyone. And that's not what we want. When we feel good, we do good. That goes for us. Because for our kids, everyone on the planet, when we feel good, we do good. We have to help our kids feel good. We have to see them as their own person. They're an individual, My children are not a mini version of me, or a mini version of their dad. They are unique, individual people. And when we see our kids as unique individual people, then we're honoring who they are right, or not putting our own stuff on them. We are letting them be themselves. And we are celebrating that. And that then sets up a great relationship. Now we're on the same team. I'm on my kids team, I'm rooting for who my kid is their authentic self.

I am supporting my kid and who they are and what they need, instead of fighting against them. So that situation with the homework, if I had said instead to my son, oh my gosh, I really see you're having a hard time with us. Why do you think that is? What do you think is going on? What can I do to help you? Or what can you do to help yourself. And the answers to that could be so many different things. He could be hungry, he could be tired, he could not understand the material, he could feel overwhelmed by the assignment. He could have a learning disability that's making it harder. He could be just having a really hard focus and attention day, and just not able to do it in that moment.

But when I say Quit whining and complaining, get it done. I've shut him down. I have erased who he is and said that, that doesn't matter. But if I ask him what he needs, what's going on, and how I can help him. Now it's about him, right? It's seeing who he is, and what his needs are. And that is being on the same team. So now he gets that I want to help him. I want him to succeed. And I want to help him succeed in a way that works for him. Wow, imagine that. And all I did was change my attitude about the struggle over homework, right? That was all about me, me the parent changing my attitude, not coming at him as though he's my enemy. And I must force him to do what I need him to do and control him. But to see him as this little person who is his own person and has different needs than I do and needs my help. It's night and day folks. It's night and day. You will see a very different child in one scenario versus the other.

There, and you know this, I am sure you have seen this in your own family. When you're empathetic and compassionate and helpful, it always goes differently. When you're trying to control the situation, you're setting it up for battle. And that relationship, it matters so much, guys, it matters so much the relationship that you and your child have with each other, that drives every interaction. It drives their emotional stability and resilience. It helps them to feel good, which sets them up to be able to do good. You see where I'm going with this, right? It matters so much in so many ways. When we are collaborative with our kids, when we approach our relationship, as though we're just two people on the same team, yes, my job is to keep my kids safe. Yes, my job is to set boundaries, because they are young, and they are not wise yet. But we're on the same team, we want the same things in the end for each other.

Now my kid is able to feel good around me. Now my kid feels better about himself. Now my kid wants to talk to me when he's having a hard time, he wants to seek out my help, and maybe the help of other adults, because he has seen that some adults want to help him. It's just such a different life, right? I mean, truly, if I am combat and if I am authoritarian, if I am controlling, that is one family dynamic, it's not a good one, it doesn't feel good for anyone. And so often we stick to that dynamic, because we think that's what we're supposed to do. When it's not, it's not at all what we should be doing, there's a better way. And instead, we can set up a family dynamic of individuality, being authentic, wanting to help each other caring about each other, wanting everyone to feel good. That creates the kind of relationship and environment where our kids can actually do good, where they can regulate themselves where they can get that homework done, maybe with your help.

And maybe it should be a reduced assignment and only half of it. But now they can get it done. Because they're not having to battle with you. They're not feeling like they're unseen and unheard. I can't tell you how important it is for our kids to feel seen and heard. And you think about when we create this sort of dynamic in our minds, where someone's our enemy, we don't see them and hear them, they have a different perspective than ours. But typically, we don't try to understand that, we just see that it's different. And we create this wall, and we call them our enemy. Our kids are not our enemies, our kids are not our enemies. They are a lovely little humans that need our help. And they need to be seen and heard. And they will not battle with you. If you are truly seeing and hearing what they're going through. And who they are. They won't they won't battle with you when you are on their side and you're in their corner. So very important. Because that collaborative relationship of caring, and authenticity, changes the dynamic for everything in the day to day, it helps so much, because it helps our kids to feel good, and it helps us to feel good, to do well As parents, we also have to feel good. And when you're battling with your kid, you're not feeling good, right? You're not I don't think anyone feels good when they're battling with their child.

So when we have this sort of me versus them, it's setting up friction. It's creating a ripe environment for our kids to push back against us, right? And the older they get, the more that happens. If you have a teenager and you are adversarial with that teenager, you're viewing them as your enemy. You're telling them what they need to do. You're telling them who they need to be. You're telling them to just get the damn homework done. You're instantly creating the environment where they are going to push against you. They are going to push back 1,000% and then what are you accomplishing nothing say Row zero, because now you're battling, right? Our kids need to feel some control over their own lives, and their own destiny, they need to be able to do things their own way, sometimes, so many things have more than one right way to do them. But we tend to, as humans somehow decide that there's only one right way to do something. And it's the way that we know. And that's just because we don't know every way to do it. We haven't tried every way to do it. It's pretty natural.

But we have to stop ourselves from telling our kids that they must do things in the way that we do them. They are not us. They're their own individual person. And again, that's setting it up, this sort of me versus you, parent versus child dynamic that we just don't want. Because it doesn't feel good, and it's not helpful. It's actually making things worse, way, way worse. So I encourage you to step back and think about what you really want for your child, and for your Parenthood. Do you want to control your kid? Or do you want to help your kid? And I think when you ask yourself that question that bluntly, the answer is always going to be well, I want to help my kid, I want to help my kid feel good about themselves. I want to help them feel successful, and important, and have a purpose, and to be happy as an adult. And as a kid, we want our kids to have joy to write. That's what we want. We don't just want to control our kids. Would that make life easier for us? Sure. But if you're really stepping back and asking yourself in your heart, what do you want for your children?

Do you want to control them? Or do you want to help them? Your heart is going to answer help every time. Every single time. That's what we want. That's the environment we have to mindfully create. I know that we get stuck with what we need our kids to do so often. I see that in my Facebook parent support groups. I hear it in my coaching calls with parents. I see it everywhere. When I'm around parents. I just need my kid to blank. I just need my kid to get his homework done without fighting with me. And without making it a bigger to do than it really is. I just need my kid to stop disrespecting me. I just need my kid to go to school all like he's supposed to do. I just need my kid to get ready in the morning. Instead of lollygagging around, I'm sure you've heard, thought or said these things.

I have said many of them in the past at some point. It's natural. But you have to catch yourself. I need is in every one of those statements I need as a parent, what about my kid? What does my kid need? My kid needs to be supported in a way that helps them to get ready for school in an appropriate amount of time without a lot of nagging. My kid needs me to sit down and talk him through his homework. My kid needs me to advocate for him at school, so that I can get him reduced assignments so that he's only doing homework as much as his peers. Instead of hours on end every night. I need to see and hear my child so that his defenses aren't up. And he talks to me in a disrespectful way. My kid needs those things from me. My kid needs me to see him. My kid needs me to hear him. My kid needs me to understand him.

My kid needs my support in areas of weakness. Just think about that. Let it sink in. It's about our kids. We didn't have kids to be all about us. Why would you bring a person into the world? If you didn't want to bring a person, this whole new person into the world for hate? That's what it's about. So it's about them? What do they need? Yes, we as parents have needs as adults we have needs. And yes, our kids are going to fulfill some of those. They're going to bring us joy. They're going to make us feel good. They're going to help us see the world in a different way. They're going to help us be better people in a lot of ways. Yes, there is some that is about us in that relationship. But we're in we're talking about behavior from our kids. What our kids are doing, it's about them. It's about what they need, not what we need.

So I want to encourage you to really think about this. Try to be mindfully aware when something happens, pause, take a big breath, and blow it out strong. And think about what your child needs, see them, see who they truly are, what is truly going on for them in that moment, because your nine year old, your 12 year old, your six year old, is not sitting down to homework and going, I'm going to see how mad I can make mom and dad right now. I'm going to see how mad I can make them. I'm going to see how miserable I can make them. I wonder if I can ruin their entire night. That's not happening, folks are kids want to do? Well, you have to recognize that you have to take those moments of pause and mindfulness and awareness to recognize that they want to do well. And there's something blocking that and it's not about you. And it's not that they're your enemy. They're not your enemy, you're on the same team. You're on the same side. And you have the power as the parent to create the relationship that you want with your child to help your child be the best version of themselves. That's your job.

Thanks for joining me on the parenting ADHD podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share. And don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and Mama retreats at parentingADHDandAutism.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Thank you!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it. Have something to say, or a question to ask? Leave a comment below. I promise to answer every single one. **Also, please leave an honest review for the Beautifully Complex Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and appreciated! That's what helps me reach and help more families like yours.

I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

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About the show...

I'm your host, Penny.

Join me as I help parents, caregivers, and educators like you harness the realization that we are all beautifully complex and marvelously imperfect. Each week I deliver insights and actionable strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids — those with ADHD, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities…

My approach to decoding behavior while honoring neurodiversity and parenting the individual child you have will provide you with the tools to help you understand and transform behavior, reduce your own stress, increase parenting confidence, and create the joyful family life you crave. I am honored to have helped thousands of families worldwide to help their kids feel good so they can do good.

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