Want to know who is the best counselor your kids will ever have? Surprisingly, they may not have any formal training, experience, or even a degree! I always tell my clients “The best counselor their kids will ever have is you”, however, there is a catch!
What I mean by this is that your kids have you to go to in the moments when life knocks them down. You are the most accessible person and the one who already knows their back story and how they tick. You are the ‘first string’ but, in order to be effective, you have to be the healthiest person you can be!
Getting yourself stable and mature and healthy is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children! If your life is full of chaos, drama, or otherwise out of control, how can you guide your kids on how to make good, healthy decisions in life? If you avoid conflict and have immature responses to day-to-day stresses, how can you help your children learn how to respond in a more mature and healthy way? Bottom line? You have to work on getting your own life figured out so that you can be there for your children when they hit the potholes of life!
If your children are young, get busy! Find the areas of your life that aren’t going so smoothly and start working on figuring out why so that you have a great foundation when they are teenagers. If you have teenagers, it’s not too late! Nothing speaks more loudly than action. Your children watching you examine your own behavior, making changes, or even making apologies will have a huge impact on their lives going forward. And if you are a parent with grown children, it’s never too late! Who knows? Maybe you will grow and learn together! Children greatly respect when their parents are real, humble, and honest about life’s struggles and it creates an environment where they are free to make mistakes and learn from them, too.
When children see their parents model humility and start making changes towards healthier behaviors, it is not only great modeling for them, but it also is a wonderful environment for growing the relationship. You can actually have a stronger and healthier relationship with your children by being more vulnerable with them!
Think of it this way . . . if you were to pick a counselor for your children, would you pick someone whose life is a train wreck? No way! You would want them to see someone who has their act together and has mastered the art of staying healthy, stable and mature through life’s ups and downs. And that is what I am suggesting for you as a parent. You are the one who is there when they get off the school bus crying, or when they’ve been jilted by a boyfriend or girlfriend. You are the one who will be there when they miss the winning shot or have done something they regret. The best counselor your children will ever have is the healthiest version of you, so maybe do a little self-examination today. When you look at your life, would you choose you for the best counsel for your children? If you need a little help, give us a call!
Kathy A. Henry, MSW, LCSW