Parenting: Asking the Right Questions

Parenting: Asking the Right Questions 

by Faya Alhabshi

Young Child“Dre, pick up your jacket!”

This famous caption from the movie The Karate Kid is an example of one of the most common parental concerns when it comes to disciplining children. The child either won’t listen, or he needs to be reminded from time to time. Often, the more you nag, the more likely they will not do it.

When I took up a parenting course, I was given a long list of reading on parenting theories. I found that parenting covers methods of caring, dealing, handling, managing, education, helping and even programming children. It is a self-help set of rules that parents around the world would search for and apply in order to do all they think they need to do as parents and to ensure children’s needs are met.

The world of developmental psychology went further, from parenting theories to parenting styles (Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive and Uninvolved), and their impact. Authoritative parenting appeared to give the best impact: happy, capable and successful children.

So what do I do if I possess parenting types other than the authoritative style? How do I break that negative inherited parenting style? Some researchers conclude that combining and appreciating each parenting style is one way of achieving successful parenting. Other parenting literatures would suggest even more methodologies, success stories and proven effective parenting techniques.  Unfortunately for me, none of these has helped me make my child pick up his towel voluntarily.

The good news is I didn’t have to wait for a Kung Fu Master to appear and “teach him a lesson”. All I needed was realization – that nobody wants him to pick up and hang up the towel but me. Asking the right question is the key to this realization. We can’t find the right answers if we ask the wrong questions. The Work of Byron Katie was a real lifesaver for me.  Instead of asking ‘how do I make my child pick up his towel’, the right question for me was ‘is it true that my child should pick up his towel?’

The truth is I should happily pick it up and hang it instead, because I want it. If I want something, I should be happier doing it myself than expecting someone else to do it for me.  So there I was, happily picking things up and before I knew it, my child began picking up his towel after his bath, without me wanting him to do it.