Mother’s Manifesto Part 1: Parents Have Power

Parents have power.  Power is influence and you have way more than you think.

You may feel like you don’t have influence or authority over your children. Your children don’t want to admit it. But no matter what they say, no matter what they do, they still care what you think.

This, fellow parent, is power.

So why do we so often feel powerless?

Today’s national conversation is often about parental shaming. Parental Shaming disempowers parents by making them feel that everything they’re doing is a mistake.

Debates rage on the national stage today about how to parent our children. These debates get parents defensive about their parenting. The media slings around terms like “helicopter parenting” and “snowplow moms.” Let’s face it, most of the shaming is directed towards mothers.

It has to stop.

Mothers still bear the majority of the responsibility for raising the children. (This isn’t always true, but it usually is.)

Now is the time for mothers to band together to recognize how to use their parental power. It’s time to take the shaming out of our national conversation. Moms need compassion and support—especially from each other. We all need to understand that parents are doing the very best they can with what they know at the time.

One of the most challenging tasks human beings undertake is rearing children to be independent, contributing, happy adults. And it isn’t getting any easier.

Moms—and dads—need help in the form of practical tools and solid advice based on time tested principles. Parents should have the freedom to seek out this advice freely and openly.

During the high school years, teenagers go through the biggest transition of their lives. During these same years, mothers also go through their biggest transition since their children’s birth. Who are we outside our identities as “Mom?” Are we still their mothers after they leave for college? What role should we play in the lives of our soon-to-be adult children? What do we need to let go of, and what should we hang onto?

There’s no shame in asking for help.

Our goal is nothing short of changing the national conversation about how our children make the transition to mature, productive, and independent adults.

Our moral obligation is to give parents what they need to keep their child safe, prepared, and successful in college. We have a moral duty to give you this whether or not you ever invest in any of our programs.

Parents have immense power and influence over their children. Power is not about control. Power is about guidance—when to guide and when to let the natural consequences of their actions be the teacher.

This manifesto is more than our statement of belief (though that’s important). It is a call to action for parents today.

But before we plant our flag in the ground, Janet and I got together to discuss why this is so important to us. Why are we so passionate about this topic, and why did we choose this path?

 

Part 1: Our Story

One day my business partner Steve and I (Janet) were talking about life—ours and our friends—and what we had observed in the world of business. We each had shepherded three kids into adulthood, and we each had worked with young adults in schools and in the workplace.

We acknowledged that we and our children felt worried and stressed during the transition from high school into college. We wished we had more advice and support.

We knew that after the age of two, moms tend to put away Dr. Spock and Moms on Call and pretty much just “wing” parenting. When our kids hit those teenage and college years, our relationships became more difficult and confusing. Our prior parenting strategies stopped working, and we were unsure what would work.

We were uncertain what to do about our children’s demands for independence without responsibility. Our children were good kids, but couldn’t foresee the consequences of their actions. They acted as if they were invincible, but they also seemed quite fragile. And they never seemed quite so fragile as the moment we left them alone at college on that first day.

We recognized a need to instill core mental toughness skills for them to walk confidently into college.  In one fell swoop, they faced losing the presence of their friends and parents. Their whole lives changed into something strange and unfamiliar where they didn’t know the rules of survival. Our kids needed help and so did we.

Weighing heavily was the dangerous state of the world. Suddenly a college campus didn’t seem like a protected place anymore. Things had changed dramatically since we were college students, as the news kept reminding us. How could we trust our children to keep themselves safe and make wise decisions?

We saw the teenage years as the last best opportunity to make sure our students were destined for success and happiness.

It became our passion to help other parents through this transition.

We did have a few secret weapons at our disposal.

I was a former principal and school administrator. Steve was a personal and professional coach with 12 years’ experience helping college-age and twenty-somethings get motivated and achieve their goals. He also taught values to high-school students in public schools through a nonprofit. We both hired, and fired, young adults: Me as the District Director for our congressman, and Steve as the owner of an Inc. 500 company.

Steve had just completed his master’s degree in a whole new field: Positive Psychology. You see, Steve wanted to understand the science behind parenting. Specifically, he wanted to know the science behind how to motivate teens and instill self-confidence.

So we spent a year researching parenting techniques from the experts. And frankly, there’s too few experts when it comes to parenting high school students. Then we added what Steve learned about the science behind positive psychology. We put our learning and years of experience on paper (and websites, and blogs, and video and audio and…)

We’ve seen all sorts of parenting approaches. Most can work if parents keep some bedrock principles in mind. We have lots to reveal. We want mothers in particular to discover their own confidence during this time of transition. This is our passion, our mission, and the culmination of our lives’ work.

Here our first big reveal from our research:

It’s never too late to apply your power and influence to effect significant mental growth in your children.

The high school years are the very best years to exert that power and influence.

That’s the topic of part two of our manifesto.

Click here to continue to part two…

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