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Parenting Guru: Are you an empowered parent?

Julie Weingarden Dubin is a Michigan-based freelance journalist, blogger and author with three rocking kids, a loving husband and a trashed minivan. She covers parenting, health, psychology, relationships and pop culture for national mag...

Give up control and get closer to your kids

There are parents who expect their kids to submit to authority. But does an “It’s-my-way-or-the-highway” program really fly today? Erik A. Fisher, Ph.D., aka Dr. E..., author of The Art of Empowered Parenting: The Manuel You Wish Your Kids Came With, teaches parents that they don’t need to have power over their kids—they can have power with them through communication and mutual respect. Dr. E. discusses empowered parenting below.

Give up control and get closer to your kids

There are parents who expect their kids to submit to authority. But does an "It's-my-way-or-the-highway" program really fly today? Erik A. Fisher, Ph.D., aka Dr. E., author of The Art of Empowered Parenting: The Manual You Wish Your Kids Came With, teaches parents that they don't need to have power over their kids -- they can have power with them through communication and mutual respect. Dr. Fisher discusses empowered parenting below.

Why should parents learn about equity parenting?

Dr. E.: Throughout time, parents have often felt that exerting control and demanding compliance was the best way to raise healthy, successful kids. Parents need to learn that their job is to guide and support their child's growth through their life, not control and order their kids around.

Equity implies that we're all students and teachers and that there's a balance in life. When we learn that our children have the capacity to teach us as much as we teach them, there's a true collaboration.

How is equity parenting different from the traditional hierarchical family model?

Dr. E.: The equity model is based on love and the hierarchical model is based on fear. A love-based respect teaches us to respect others as we want to be respected. A fear-based respect teaches us to respect those with more power until we don't need them, until they're out of our reach or until we feel like we have more power than them.

The struggle for power often happens when our kids head into their teenage years. By then they start to realize that they're not as dependent on us and challenge us for more for power. This is why parents feel like they're losing control, and fear often prompts them to exert more control and feed the storm. You want to foster trust and cooperation from an early age. Communication is a huge part of this equation.

How can parents help their kids feel confident?

Dr. E.: Confidence is something that grows over time. It's feeling that we're good at something. Pride is feeling good about who we are. To find our confidence, we have to feel failure. Failure tells us when it's time to learn. Too many parents don't let their kids experience failure or they tell them they're great all the time, in spite of their performance. This doesn't foster trust or confidence, but can foster inadequacy and arrogance, which is a shield of false pride. We need to be objective and honest with our kids so they can be the best that they can be -- rather than as good as we tell them they are.

Dr. E's tips to get closer to your kids:

  • See your kids more as a gift than an obligation.
  • Don't let kids spend too much time on technology -- the same goes for parents.
  • Eat dinner together.
  • Don't feel like your kids have to play every sport or be in every activity.
  • Talk to your kids daily about what they're doing and ask about their feelings.
  • Hug your kids every day and tell them you love them.
  • Make eye contact when you talk to them.
  • Don't give your children everything they want.
  • Teach your kids responsibility by behaving responsibly.

Read more on parenting and communication

How to parent a difficult child
The most ineffective things to say to your kids
Learn more about your kids through communication

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