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.
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.
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.
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.
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