Relationships 101 – For kids

Donna Rice
Donna is a serial entrepreneur focused on serving children and families.
Personal Development

Oct 31,2017

I am in the fortunate position, as a parent, to have a “Do-Over”. Yes, same Mom but different kid. There is a significant age spread between my first two children and my youngest. If you have read some of my previous articles, you will understand part of the reason for the gap. If you have not read my previous articles entitled “A Labor of Love and Loss” Part 1 and 2, I invite you to do so. You will then understand why Jake is my Rainbow Baby. 

Each of my children are blessings and Jake is a different blessing as he came after the devastating loss of Mandy. There are many factors influencing how I have raised Jake. My eldest children had already reached their teenage years and I was a single mother before Jake was born. That is a story for another time, maybe. 

I took my Do-Over very seriously and wanted to make sure that I repeated all the great things I did the first time and avoided the things that I felt did not turn out as I had hoped or imagined. One thing that I felt I could have done better was how I taught or failed to teach my two eldest to manage relationships.

There are many current day terms referencing parenting styles. Some more or less effective than others. Illustrative terms like Helicopter Parenting, Overparenting, Narcissistic Parenting, Toxic Parenting, Lawnmower Parenting, Bumble Bee Parenting, Buzzard Parenting and others. Maybe I made up a few of these terms, but you get the point. I mention several less than desirable styles, knowing full well that there are many positive parenting styles. No matter what style of parenting we choose, for most parents, we start from a place of deep love, responsibility and the desire to “do right” for our kids. Of all the things I knew, consciously, that I was doing right, there were things that I realized that I was doing wrong. 

Whatever category or parenting style this fell into, I did not teach my older children how to manage relationships. I was always there to manage every relationship for them. Their grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, teachers, coaches, doctors, dentists and even their friends. This is no exaggeration. It was like a part-time job for me! I sincerely felt that I was helping them; that I was doing what all good parents should do for their kids. I maybe even judged parents that I observed not doing this for their children. Did I really write that?!??! Well, maybe this is a slight exaggeration as I really am not a judgmental person at all. Yet, I may have wondered why parents were not managing relationships for their kids. 

And when I tell you that I was “managing” these relationships it really was like a part-time job that I did on evenings and weekends and the odd downtime that I had in the office. I was crazy serious about that job! And I thought I was “so good”! Thursday or Friday nights consisted of contacting the parents of all the kids that Meg and Kyle were friends with, no exaggeration! I had to know what they had planned for the entire weekend and if my kids would be invited or involved. If nobody had solid plans, they certainly did by the time I had spoken to all the parents, or sometimes grandparents. I took that job very seriously! And I am not referring to the toddler years, ashamedly! This unconscious parenting behavior continued well into their teens; I really hope that they both forgive me! And, if you read my article, “Silently Saving My Daughter” the sessions held with a psychotherapist that I reference also included many discussions on this behavior. 

There are many things that I have changed in the 10 years of raising Jake; he certainly profited from my past experiences. And I very consciously teach him how and let him manage his own relationships. As a matter of fact, he did not have a choice and he started doing so at an early age. The photo above is a perfect example. It is Jake with his Barber, Joe. Joe has been Jake’s barber since he was about 4 years old. Jake and Joe have a relationship. I have barely ever spoken to Joe. I certainly have never told Joe how to cut Jake’s hair. And have never even booked an appointment with Joe. It all started when I was at the salon getting my hair cut. Jake asked me if he could get a haircut too. He was 4 years old. I advised him to speak to the receptionist to find out if it was possible. On that day, Jake began his relationship with Joe and has been managing it ever since. He makes the appointments, he manages the payments (from my wallet of course!), he gives the instructions on what he wants done at the time and he decides how much he wants to tip Joe. He also reminds Joe how he likes his hot chocolate! Joe does not even know my name. I am “Jake’s Mom” to him, simply the mother of his customer. And it all started when Jake was 4! 

This is just one example of how I have taught and enabled Jake to manage relationships. You see, I assessed, adapted and acted. This is one of the privileges of a “Do-Over”. I still have lots of room for improvement, but I think I got this part right finally. Share with someone that may find this helpful. I would love to hear your parenting stories and what you have or would do in a Do-Over!

Other articles by this author