Updated: Feb 17, 2020
Laura Today we have a very special guest. She is a published author and a blogger, mom of three and currently writing a parenting book. Who is this very special lady? Well, she's my mom. With 30 years of parenting under her belt and tons of wisdom to share. We're talking a little bit about me as a child, all about helping your children prepare to launch into the real world and the importance of teaching your kids to do rather than do for them.
Laura Why don't you tell us a little bit about what it was like raising us, three kids?
Karen Wow. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work. Each of you is so different from each other that you have to figure out how to parent differently with each one. Don't expect that the sibling's going to be anything like their brother or sister.
Laura What would you say was one of the biggest lessons in regards to that that you learned with Megan, Jared and myself?
Karen One of the things that I learned was she helped me to get outside of myself cause she's such an extrovert and I'm not so parenting an extrovert. When you're an introvert it is very stretching. Jared, he's a boy and had just a completely different way of playing than you girls. And more destructive. But also he has really loved Legos for long periods of time. Very intense play very focused sometimes. And he had very little patience as a little kid. So developing patients myself to model patients for him and not to lose my patience with him. When he wasn't patient and we called you Switzerland, your brother and sister had stronger personalities in their will and you were just very easy going. And go with the flow. But I had so many parents come up to me and say those are the ones you need to watch for.
Karen But I saw later how not encouraging you to draw boundaries and say no and have an opinion. Encouraging you to have an opinion. Some of those things made it harder for you when it came time for junior high and high school and in life. That was, unfortunately, that was a lesson I learned in hindsight, which is part of parenting.
Karen That is some things you learn along the way and some things you figure out and you go, oh, I would've done that differently. But that's something that you can pass on for others to learn in their own personal relationship with their children. But the one thing I really loved about raising you was your curiosity and wonder. And it helped me to slow down and really see the beauty in the wonder in life. And that was a gift. Yes. I still enjoy living like that today and you're still very much like that.
Laura So as we grew up, what were some of the things that you wish you had done better?
Karen While writing this parenting book for parents of young adults in my circle of influence have really struggled. Their kids have struggled to launch and they've struggled to help their kids launch. And so this book is all about how do you launch your young adult while still maintaining or developing a healthier relationship with them? Because I think parents are afraid of stepping in and helping their young adults launch equipping them for that because they don't want to ruin the relationship they've worked so hard to develop with their kids. One thing I've found is often when a child reaches 18 or even 16 year old, there is tension. It's that dynamic of the kid wanting to be more independent. Then the parent who they've had that dependency on one another for so long are going through these growing pains.
Laura I want to be this person, but and you want them to grow and become their own person. It's a difficult transitional period.
Karen I mean, you've worked so hard to have this close relationship and then it gets to that transitional point where they're pulling away and you feel them pulling away. And it's usually not in ways that are easy. They are testing you. They do it in ways that feel scary and hurtful. So it's hard as a parent not to panic in those moments and move towards them. Parents responded not so great ways too. And it's a necessary transition. If you stay stuck there, then it's not healthy for either one of you. You all launching. There's pride in your launching but there is also grief in launching, You're grieving what your relationship in your life that used to be a big part of defining your life.
Laura I was thinking about how different it must be for you, too. You're my parent. But now I'm a mother myself and now I have a kid myself. And just how these dynamics are constantly changing and you're having to navigate that. That's something that I'm navigating having a mother-daughter relationship with you. But it's definitely no longer what it was when I was still your daughter, and it's different than living under your roof or being off in college. It's just always this weird, ever-changing learning opportunity because you could say, that basically sums up parenting.
Karen It's important to talk to peers because you guys are in the trenches. You have so much available to you on the Internet and stuff that I didn't have. There's a lot of information out there.
Laura I think we can learn a lot from other mothers and I don't know if this is just my personal opinion, but I feel we're in this generation of we don't really want to learn from parents. And I think that we're doing ourselves a disservice we think "I don't have to ask someone who I know who's already been through it or is going through it." I think it's important for conversations like this to happen where it's not scripted and there is no hidden agenda.
Karen You can get all this information on the Internet, but it means a lot when you ask. I'm careful not to give out a lot of unsolicited advice. But we still want you to make your own choices.
Laura If you could just pass on one nugget of advice to other mothers, what would it be?
Karen I realize that part of what our generation that was very child-focused did, too. That was a disservice to our kids was we over parented. We're the generation of the snowplow helicopter parents. And I see how culturally that was the norm. So even without being aware of it or trying to do it. I jokingly say I'm not a Black Hawk helicopter parent, but I definitely have a little chopper inside of me. That really handicapped our kids for adult life. Because if I were to have that information and go back, I would do things differently in that I would give you guys just a lot more independence and not hover as much in your play in your school. And when you encountered problems or situations in life, I would definitely ask more questions instead of giving advice and help you guys to be confident decision-makers. Not that as a parent, you can't give wisdom.
Karen This is gradually getting there. You're not going to do that with a 2-year-old but as your kids grow. By the time they graduate from high school, that they're they have responsibilities. You're not doing it all for them. I've seen parents get involved in their kids' squabbles with friends and then the parents get into it and let them work it out. How can you navigate life without any problem-solving skills? As a mom, it feels good to be needed and to do stuff for your kids. It makes you feel good that you're being loving and nurturing and all of those scenes. As a school teacher, seeing parents walk through the door with their kid for the first time entering kindergarten it's a hard transition for you and for your kid. And I have seen the parents sat, of course, on that first day. Everybody's helping their child to learn the routine of hang up your backpack and get your work out of your backpack and all of that stuff and get situated. But then you see some of those parents that it's still at the end of the school year. It still looks like it did at the beginning of the school year. They're still doing everything for their child. And I think even though the pressure, almost peer pressure culturally if you aren't doing some of these things and you're not a very loving parent. Not being afraid sometimes, too, of what other parents think and doing what you know to be right for you and your child. And yet gradually giving them that independence so that by the time they reach 18 years old or graduating from college, they really feel confident. They have confidence in themselves and their abilities. And they've learned that they can do it and they're not too fearful about this new frontier that's arising. That really is in talking to young adults, not just my own kids, but I've coached several young adults. And that really is kind of an underlying thing, is fear, fear of failure. It's important too let our kids fail. Give them permission and actually encourage trying and celebrating, they learned one way not to do it.
Laura If you enjoy this episode and want to learn more. Check out Karen's web site. www.karenpickrell.com or on her Instagram @karenpickrell .