Try explaining AGE to a 3-year-old. You may say, “One day you’ll be big like me!” And then he’ll respond, as he stands on a chair, “Look! I’m getting bigger already!”
Teens aren’t clued in either. Sure, they get what it means to be 16, but they don’t usually know what it takes to be a responsible adult.
You, on the other hand, hold the membership card. You’ve lived longer, seen more and know better. That’s why you are the one who leads the way.
For the strong-willed kid or the independent preteen, the adult card is one best played close to the vest.
That’s because your God-given influence works best within the context of a loving and trusting relationship. Knowledge is power, yes, but when it comes to the impact you make on your kid, what matters isn’t what you know, but how well you know your kid.
Do you want to shape the future of the kid in your life? Get to know them.
You probably already hang out with them, have fun, chat, listen and relax—all with the purpose of building a strong, positive relationship.
Still, many adults make the mistake of offering up activities, time and coveted advice based on two false assumptions that have the potential to affect their influence. What are they? Well, we’re glad you asked:
1. YOU MIGHT ACT LIKE KIDS TODAY ARE LIKE YOU TODAY.
We know this kind of sounds absurd when you read it. But give us a chance to explain.
The way you do things, the ideas you come up with, your thoughts or feelings when something happens to you—they all make sense. Or we should say they all make sense to you. You are the way you are and you do the things you do because of the perspective you gained during 22, 35 or 48 years on this earth.
Do you ever find yourself in conflict with your kid because they see things differently than you? Maybe you have trouble understanding your toddler’s nonsensical meltdown or your teenager’s immature decision. Is it possible that you’re looking at life through your own lens and expecting kids—with their underdeveloped lenses—to see what you see?
2. YOU MIGHT THINK THAT KIDS TODAY ARE LIKE YOU WERE BACK WHEN.
After all, you were a kid once. You survived middle school. You fought with friends, made at least one bad grade, had that totally embarrassing lunchroom incident and lived to tell the tale. When it comes to growing up, you know a thing or two. The problem with this kind of thinking is that a lot has changed since you were a second grader.
Think about it this way: You know how bad that first breakup hurts. But can you imagine being 14 and having your heartache announced to the world through a relationship status update? On the positive side of things, think of all the types of incredible information for learning that kids have access to now, that you are only now getting to experience.
So if you think you might have ever made those assumptions about kids trade them in for the following:
- Kids today are kids.
This means a 2-year-old is going to act like a 2-year-old and a 16-year-old is going to think like a 16-year-old. And yes, that’s as scary as it sounds. Those brains are still molding and forming. They are going to get stuff wrong, have freak outs and go rogue from time to time.
This is normal. That’s not to say it’s okay. Feel free to have standards, communicate expectations and hold those boogers accountable. But chill out when they start acting like kids because they are kids.
- Kids today are kids who live in today’s world.
That means their world looks very different from the one you grew up in. Thankfully, today, you live in the same world as they do! You can study social media, check out the latest hit movies, books and music, and generally work to understand what it might be like to grow up in the golden age of smartphones and unlimited Internet access.
This is all pretty great news, actually, as you stop to consider your potential to establish a strong relationship with your kid and positively influence their future. Because…
You once were a kid.
You live in today’s world.
You have the wisdom of an adult.
And as you get to know who your kids are today, all of your knowledge combined will pack a pretty strong punch.
This article originally appeared here.