Leadership in Parenting: Stability
This is the 10th of 12-part series is about the most basic—and vital—of leadership roles. In my experience, parenting is rarely discussed as leadership. Yet without sound parenting, no generation has any real hope of building capable bench strength of future leaders. These last four posts are based on data-driven principles found in Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath.
Ever been in a job that was unstable or unhealthy? It’s a terrible feeling, isn’t it? According to Gallup, Stability is number three of the top four needs of followers. We choose to follow leaders who provide stability more readily and consistently than those leaders who can’t—or won’t.
People choose to follow leaders who provide stability more readily and consistently than those leaders who can’t—or won’t.
Instability impacts kids, too, except that its effects last well into adulthood. Studies show that instability events (e.g. parental coldness, authoritarianism, over-protectionism, rejection, divorce, loss of parents, physical and sexual abuse, etc.) are consistently associated with the onset of anxiety, mood, addictive, and acting out disorders.
“And Your Point Is…?”
A stable, loving, environment is critical for our kids to flourish in adult life.
To start with, here are two macro-level observations to consider:
- Increased Divorce. Between 1960 and 2016, the percentage of children living in families with two parents decreased from 88% to 69%. It’s particularly bad in African-American homes, where the percentage went from 67% to 39%.
- Decreased Connection. Increased use of social media and mobile technology is the latest among a long list of things we’ve allowed to decrease the level and quality of interpersonal connection with each other.
Not to over-generalize (or especially in the case of divorce, demonize) these topics, but doesn’t it appear self-evident that a change is needed? We can and should prioritize how we go about choosing and sustaining the relationship with our life partners. We can admit that there’s simply no replacing the emotional connection, psychological convergence and nurturing that takes place in a meaningful conversation. After all, the long-term impact it can bring is foundational to a healthy life and is part of a legacy that one generation leaves to another (see this article as an example).
There’s simply no replacing the emotional connection, psychological convergence and nurturing that takes place in a meaningful conversation.
The Big Picture
It’s important, I think, to recognize that “stable” doesn’t mean “perfect.” Neither does it mean insulating kids from experiencing any and every disappointment or hardship. Every home encounters challenges; it’s how you deal with them and lead your family through them that matters.
Do what you can to connect with your kids, no matter what’s going on. Most of the anxiety-causing issues stated above are relational (coldness, rejection, authoritarianism). Maybe start with just changing your facial expression or tone of voice. Relational stability can go a long way, even when environmental or situational instability exists.
Every home encounters challenges; it’s how you deal with them and lead your family through them that matters.
Your Next Step
What can you do this week to improve the connection with your kids?