CONTROL

Newsletter No. 8 – March 1st, 2024
Written by a human. 

“Maturing as a parent is realizing parenting is less about controlling your kids' behavior and more about controlling your own." (1)

As a dad with two young kids, this quote hits home. I often find myself trying to control my kids’ behavior.

After all, isn’t that what parents are for? 

Isn’t our job to shape and mold our kids into little replicas of ourselves? 

Shouldn’t we try to craft talented, high functioning, Ivy League grads who go on to lead successful, purposeful lives? 

Don’t we get a ribbon for that?

It is so easy to get caught up in the trap of trying to control our kids by telling ourselves we’re doing what’s best for them.

Simultaneously, controlling our kids’ behavior is also our way of sidestepping the discomfort that accompanies our kids not adhering to the societal expectations of our social circles.
That said, this is not a thread advocating for relinquishing control of our little ones. Yes, social norms do need to be taught and kids do need guidance on how to behave, act, and react in different situations. 

Unfortunately, too many parents look to their kids as the ones who must change, not themselves.

And more unfortunately, if we take this idea and fast forward several decades, you now see what I often encounter with my work advising family business clients. 

I see parents who are still seeking to control their 20, 30, 40-year-old kids’ behavior versus recognizing that their children are beautiful, unique, and entirely distinct people from themselves. 

They were made different.
They have different ideas.
They have different perspectives.
They have different experiences. 

And yet, these parents are still seeking homogeneity and conformity.

In the early parenting years, being a mature parent is balancing the challenge of establishing what is ok versus not ok and allowing your kids to be even if that makes us feel uncomfortable.

In the later years, it is recognizing that your kids are no longer yours, and maturity (perhaps better said, wisdom) is recognizing that all you can control is your own behavior and how you show up as a loving, supportive parent, who can celebrate the differences.

– Josh Gentine

(1) Adapted from the book Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages, by L.R. Knost

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