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Parenting - Why We Should Just Give Up!

Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.’ Robert Fulghum

Helping your son navigate the stresses and strains of daily life is more important than ever, given the significant rise in youth mental health issues. You can’t remove all the challenges your son faces however you can pass on skills to help your son grow more resilient to mental health issues.

Resilience is the ability to overcome difficult experiences and be shaped positively by them. Here are three skills that I have learned from parents within our ATCommunity that I know work:

Schedule one-on-one time with your son

Resilience comes from nurturing relationships. Work on quality of time, not quantity of time. Twenty minutes of fully focused attention is better than an hour when your mind is on other things. If you’re on your smart phone at the dinner table or at the park, you’re teaching your son it’s OK to always be distracted and that they are not important enough for your sole attention. Be vulnerable with him, share your feelings and encourage him to express his. Once this time becomes regular, your son will know they always have a safe space to open up.

Sleep is a Non-negotiable

Too many boys are losing too many hours of sleep each week given a lack of boundaries when it comes to screen time e.g. gaming, social platforms, YouTube etc. There is a strong correlation between mental health issues and a lack of good-quality sleep. It also has a negative effect on memory, concentration and decision-making. If you want to improve sleep (for parents also) limit screen time before bed and keep their devices out of their room when they are supposed to be sleeping.

Delay Gratification

If you have never been hated by your child you have never been a parent. Resilience means understanding you can’t always have what you want as soon as you want it. It’s an important concept to pass on in the age of Snapchat, Spotify and Netflix. Psychology teaches us that people who can accept delayed gratification lead happier, healthier lives. Without the ability to defer pleasure and reward, your son is losing an important skill for their well-being.

There is no doubt that it’s never been more challenging for parents to raise boys. Parents need to be informed with clear, fact-based information on the many challenges faced by your sons. Topics such as youth anxiety, depression, self-harm, drug and alcohol use, cyber-bullying and many others need clear explanation and guidance. ATC is here to help! We strongly encourage you to engage with a new and ongoing resource called SchoolTV. Each edition will address a major topic with expert interviews, fact sheets, parent quiz, recommended apps, books and much more. SchoolTV saves parents time and confusion of searching online across multiple sites for information. Click here to access the ATC SchoolTV articles.

So Where to from Here?

If we want to help our sons grow in resilience to mental health issues – just give up. Give up our bad habits as parents! Please begin by giving up some time to reflect on the following clips about raising resilient kids and raising successful kids. WARNING: You will need to invest more than a couple of minutes viewing these in order to have a potential impact!

Raising Resilient Kids

Raising Successful Kids

Conor Finn
Dean of Formation
finnc@atc.qld.edu.au