What an amazing winter I have had! As some of you may know, my eldest daughter has been working as my assistant for the past year. It’s been really lovely to share my days with her. This past weekend she did the registration and room set up at my workshop on raising tweens and teens. Imagine her sitting in the back of my workshop while I am talking about how to raise teenagers! Of course, I had to call on her to share some personal stories and ask for permission to tell some of our family stories.
The parent attendees said they really liked hearing her perspective. So, as we were contemplating what to write about for the March newsletter, I asked Zoe if she would be willing to write more about what it was like from a child’s perspective to be raised by an Adlerian parent educator! Careful what you wish for…. right? I had no idea what she would write, but here is what she said:
When my mom asked me if I would be willing to write about what it was like growing up in an Adlerian household I didn’t think twice about it.
“Yes, of course! I love writing and sharing my stories with others!”.
Upon further consideration, however, I realized I really didn’t know what I had signed myself up for. If I’m being honest I was a little embarrassed, not only as her daughter but as her assistant, that I didn’t really know what it meant to “grow up Adlerian”.
“Uhhhh… Mom, could you just give a few examples of what you’re looking for here?”.
She spouted off a few – family meetings, chores, logical consequences instead of punishments, encouragement versus praise – you know the drill. It all came flooding back to me. I had never reflected on how all these Adlerian principles came together to be “how I was raised”. To me, the way things were when I was growing up seemed pretty normal and really just made a lot of sense to me!
It made sense to me that, If you’re tired of taking baths with your sister, if you want to plan a birthday party, if you want to get a guinea pig, if you want to stay the night at your boyfriend’s house for the first time, that you bring it up at the family meeting where everyone has a voice and you can come to a consensus. I HATED family meetings, but I understood the necessity of them. How else are people figuring these things out!? I remember wanting more allowance for clothes, so Lucy and I created a PowerPoint presentation with visuals and handouts explaining why we thought asking for the raise was reasonable. We all discussed it, and the extra money was agreed upon!
It made sense to me that, if you refuse to wear socks that you’ll have to keep all your stinky shoes outside where the smell won’t disturb anyone (my bad). That, If you go $700.00 dollars over your cell phone plan (oops), you aren’t grounded from seeing your friends, but you sure do need to pay that bill in full. It took me MONTHS to pay my parents back for that, but I have NEVER gone over my plan since. Plus, I discovered that I’d rather wear socks in order to have my shoes nice and warm inside and with everyone else’s.
It made sense that my family was a team and I was an important player. That, no one was better or less than anyone else, but that we were all on par with one another. My voice was imperative, equal, important, un-judged. And, because of that I was able to ask for help when my friends were too drunk and needed to get home safely, I was able to tell my mom that I was starting to have safe and consensual sex with my long-term boyfriend, I was able to tell my parents that I was having a hard time in university, struggling with anxiety and depression, and needed to move back home to take some time off. It made sense that they would love and support me no matter what, and that I didn’t have to fear punishment.
All of this just made sense. It made my life easier and my relationships richer.
Of course, I didn’t like every minute of it. I still screamed “I HATE YOU” to my parents, hid in my room for most of my early adolescence, and once kicked my sister in the stomach because I needed to do my hair and she was taking too much time in the bathroom (I’m still apologizing to her for that one). But, all in all, I don’t know how a family could do it any better. I’m eternally grateful to have been raise the way I was, and to have the parents that I have.
I know it was not, and is not easy, but at the end of the day it made sense.
So, I wish all you parents the best of luck. You are all doing fabulously!