Apparently, Superman has X-ray vision. As a teenage boy, I thought that would be a fantastic super-power to have! But there is another superpower that parents can develop that might be even more useful. It’s called Parent Vision: the ability to look through the bad behaviour to see the good kid inside. Parent Vision enables you to see past the unpleasant and difficult behaviour and to peer straight into the upset emotions that caused it. Sometimes little kids look like they are being naughty but with Parent Vision you can see that at their age and stage, what they are doing is absolutely normal – they are just good children who are learning how to behave, learning to curb their impulses, and learning how to get on with others. Use your parent vision to separate the child from the behaviour. The behaviour is unacceptable, but the child is always acceptable. The behaviour might be awful, but the child is wonderful.
With your teenager, use Parent Vision to look past the nose-stud, look beneath the tacky make-up, look beyond the horror fashions, look through the disinterested and surly expression, and see with a parent’s eyes the heart of your child. It is not unusual for young people to go through an “unlovely” stage, but with parent Vision and an extra dose of parental love, you can see what is truly worthwhile and lovely in your adolescent.
How do you get Parent Vision? It comes with practice as you chose to understand your child and discover what’s really going on, rather than just reacting and punishing. You can tune it up by reading about the psychology of why children behave as they do. Behaviour has reasons. Sometimes it is a signal or cry for help, sometimes it indicates that the relationship between you and your child needs work. And sometime, with your Parent Vision turned up to maximum power, you can see that what they did wrong is just plain old fashioned mischief. Let’s not get too psychological – there is still a place in parenting for a telling off!
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John has been with The Parenting Place (www.theparentingplace.com) for seventeen years as their senior writer and presenter. He had various roles working with youth and families prior to that but actually started his working life as a scientist in neurophysiology at Auckland Hospital. As well as writing and speaking, John is frequently on radio and television.