Friday, February 6, 2015

Love and Logic with your Twenty-Something

My husband and I raised our children with Love and Logic, a parenting program developed by Jim Fay and Foster Cline.  The philosophy appealed to us on many levels. “Raise your children to become responsible adults by equal parts nurturing (love, empathy) and logical consequences (natural, imposed).”  Jim Fay reminded us that the cost of mistakes when children are young are much cheaper than the mistakes they will make when they are grown up.  The price tag goes up.

So dutiful Love and Logic parents all over the world celebrated mistakes.  We did not rescue or lecture our little ones.  We poured on the empathy- “that’s a bummer” and let the life lessons happen. It was okay to stay calm when our kids messed up because they were getting a “real life education.”

The problem is that some kids don't make many mistakes when they are little. They have little practice with failure. They just keep "getting it right."  There are kids who work hard and get good grades.  They have great teachers. They do their chores well. They take risks by trying out for something big and they succeed.  Almost – every- stinking- time.
And then it happens. Life gets complicated. 
Adulthood is exponentially more difficult than childhood and adolescence.  The responsibilities are simultaneous, disappointments are bigger, the set-backs are scarier. Failing a test is not as big of a consequence as failing a class in college.  Running out of lunch money is definitely a smaller cost than running out of paycheck before the rent payment.
What is a parent to do when faced with a twenty something that is experiencing failure for the first time?  It really is a bummer.

Take a deep breath.  Mistakes are part of growing up.  Your Love and Logic skills will still work!

Here are 5 steps to maintaining a healthy relationship when your twenty-something makes a BIG mistake.
  1. Show them how a well put together adult behaves.  Avoid screaming, name calling, or over dramatic displays of concern.  It makes you look less credible. If your accountant cried about your taxes would you go back next year?
  2. Be empathic.  Express sadness that life is hard, acknowledge that adulthood takes time. Stay hopeful. Make normal conversation- no one wants to be reminded continually of self improvement.
  3. Ask if they want some advice.  Some twenty somethings are too embarrassed to ask for help.  If your adult child is receptive keep your suggestions brief and encouraging. Stay with the plan of ideas not mandates, information not lectures.  Assistance not a bail out.
  4. Give them permission to follow or not follow your advice.  Release your wisdom to the universe, do not get invested in the outcome. Remember that mistakes are learning opportunities- Some people need to make multiple learning opportunities before mastery.
  5. Give them a chance to try again.  If you do it for them, it is not their practice.  It takes practice to learn how to learn from mistakes.  Sometimes lots of practice.

Repeat steps 1 through 5 as many times as necessary.

Growing up is messy and parenting is hard at every developmental step. Keep your relationship healthy and connected by using your heart and your head- show them your Love and Logic skills!
If at first they don't succeed . . . it's okay.  They will learn from their mistakes-eventually. 
Didn't you?