When things are going in life, you might not think about why or how to maintain things the way they are. As people, we tend not to think about things when everything is going right. Our nature as humans is to focus our attention on crises or something going wrong. We might let our guard down when things go well and are caught off guard by any disruptions.
As a parent, you might have everything going well with your kids. They are studying at home, engaged in afterschool activities, and well-behaved. Your home is peaceful, and your kids respect you without ever challenging your authority. Until one day, they start acting out. Chores are left undone, and your kid is obsessed with their phone.
At some point, things may fall apart no matter how perfect they might seem right now. When things are going well, making parenting decisions now will help you manage chaos when and if things begin to unravel.
Sometimes, things go so well on their own that you feel like you aren’t putting in any effort at all. However, look back and think about this — are things going right now because of an early expectation you set with your kids? Are they following your example with little negative influence from others?
At some point, you most likely did set some standards and expectations. Being proactive means considering these expectations might change as your kids get older. Right now, your child comes home to study each day after school without being told. You stop checking their homework each night, then a few months later, you get a notice that they are failing all their classes. What happened?
You can keep setting the expectations and reminders, remembering that if not, things can go sideways long before you realize. Setting these expectations when things are going well will minimize the struggle of getting back on track when things go wrong down the road.
Creating a Plan
How are you going to continue teaching your kids to become responsible young adults? After a while, your child will change as they get more out into the world, testing the values you have taught them. They might get bored with the same old and want something new. As they get older, they start getting distracted with social expectations, like making friends and dating.
While your kids are young and relatively well-behaved, start thinking ahead about keeping them out of trouble as they get older. How will your kids stay away from substance or alcohol use? What will they do to stay safe while dating? How will they stay on track with schoolwork as the pressure goes up with more challenging assignments?
When things are going well, consider these potential issues. You might think, “Well.. not my kid! They’ll know better than to use drugs or drink!” You might be surprised if they begin to experiment. Thinking about these problematic behaviors can help you steer clear of getting into these situations in the first place.
The Value of a Routine
One of the best things that you can do to keep your child on the right track is by maintaining a routine in the home. Family dinners can go a long way as your child grows up. Ask your child to call you when they arrive home from school each day. Check in each morning before they leave, and plan family nights to get everyone together.
However, routines can go stale after a while. Often, people get into autopilot when things go well. Your conversations might be rote and repetitive. Try to find ways to keep things fresh and learn about your kids. Let them be the experts on themselves and never assume that you know everything about them. Get beyond the day-to-day stuff and ask how they feel about things. Ask them what types of music, movies, or books they like and why they like those things.
In addition, your kid will want to have their own sense of identity as they get older. You can help them set a healthy routine to meet new friends and learn new things by setting them up with after-school activities. Help them explore their interests and plan for these things even when your kids don’t appear to need the structure.
Going With the Flow
Of course, even when you do your best to plan for the worst, you might need to change course along the way. Learn to go with the flow and accept things for what they are. Maybe you planned every contingency to keep your kids from drugs or alcohol, yet they abuse substances anyway. Perhaps you’ve done everything to keep them healthy and happy, yet they are going through a depressive episode.
While planning will help keep things from falling apart, but not everything is in your control. When things go wrong, accept what it is, adapt, and move forward to help your kids get back on course.
When things are going well, we hardly consider why. We get into the routine of comfort and assume everything will go this well forever. Then, something goes wrong, and our reality gets shattered. When kids are well-behaved, listening to our instructions, helping out at home, and engaged in school, we might think we’ve got things easy. We might forget about the effort that went into these routines and expectations early on. As our kids grow up, they will change. They will experiment with new ways of thinking and behaving. As parents, we might want to consider how we can keep things going well. Yet, sometimes, things fall apart beyond our control. When your child engages in maladaptive behaviors, like addiction, cutting, running away, or acting out, you might wonder how you can get your kid back. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here to help you get your kid back on track. Call us at (303) 443-3343.