Back in the first week of January this year when Louis Vuitton announced that it was using Jaden Smith as the new face for their spring-summer womenswear collection, everyone went crazy. Everyone, that is, except his dad, Will Smith.
Long known for their super relaxed parenting style, Will and Jada-Pinkett are vocal about letting their famous kids live according to their desire to express themselves freely as artists. Not just regarding Jaden’s gender-fluid dressing style, but also about their career choices, various creative projects and sometimes, even their media appearances, however controversial.
It isn’t easy though to be such a chilled-out parent and it takes a certain frame of mind to be that relaxed with your child. Parents who practice a more easy-going style of raising their offspring
tend to have better relationships in the future and bring up more well-adjusted children than those who are rigidly strict and too authoritarian
If you wish to be a little more kid-friendly and less autocratic than perhaps earlier generations, know that it won’t be easy because you really do have to ease into it. Here’s how you can go about it in 5 simple steps:
- Let Go: Every parent feels like they have to say and do the perfect thing every single time or they will end up scarring and damaging their kids forever. Nothing can kill the joy of parenting faster than a sword like that hanging over your head. Give yourself permission to be an average parent and you just might end up being a fantastic one. Choose your battles and pick the ones you really care about. If Lego peices underfoot drive you up the wall, put a basket in the corner and have your kids toss all the stray Lego peices after they're done playing. If that works, fine. And, if it doesn't, understand that you tried; now let go.
- Take Time-Outs: Every time you get into an argument or feel like tearing out your hair over a trivial issue, give yourself and not the kids, a time-out. Examine the issue to see if it really is worth the strain on your vitals and then reorient your stance on it. If you still feel too angry, declare that your rage is clouding your judgment that you will revisit when calmer and walk away from the room.
- Collaborate On Projects: Getting to know what your kids really enjoy and what makes them tick is easier when you’re not acting like the parent around them. This can be tough to do as you don’t want to make them uncomfortable pretending you’re their buddy. Instead why not find something you can do together that will set the stage to have frank chats, relax enough to discuss regular life stuff and earn their trust in an informal setting? Changing the oil in the car with your teenager, mending a piece of furniture in the house or going on a mall crawl for grocery shopping, are small ways to establish a strong bond.
- Establish Boundaries: No matter how relaxed you are with young people, they will always find a way to push the envelope and see what liberties they can take. To avoid having to backtrack and play the strict parent just when you are beginning to enjoy a more casual relationship, make sure you set the rules of what can and cannot happen. Whether this applies to curfews, allowances, or roles and responsibilities, it’s better to put these down upfront and avoid confusion of conflict later on. Your kids will also appreciate the clarity and your directness.
- Negotiate Rocky Areas: Some things though, are not so easy to set in stone. These you have to discuss depending on the situation as and when it comes up. There may be areas which you find are particularly tricky and not so clear cut. Tread carefully and take the time to communicate these in heartfelt but polite terms. If you want your kids to stay away from drugs or stay in school, listen to what they have to say but make your stance clear. Bring in a counselor or some kind of professional advisor if needed to make things cordial but a little more formal.
Being a parent can be frightening and wonderful, all at the same time. But it doesn’t have to be painful and in fact, can be a great time to make memories that will last a lifetime. Try and follow these tips so that someday your children look back and have a hearty laugh with you recounting their experiences of being raised by a cool parent