Optimism. Love. Empathy.
These are the three gifts our children need from us no matter how old they are, but especially in the launch and beyond years!
Optimism shows them that we believe in them and their abilities (even if they don’t have it all figured out yet).
Love reassures them that we will always care for them no matter what.
Empathy demonstrates that we understand where they are coming from and feel their struggles.
These three values form the foundation for a many parenting programs. And, I have seen the power of optimism, love and empathy first-hand as a foster mom of over 50 kids in the last 20 years and the mom of four young adults.
These three gifts when given together can be transformational in our parenting and our relationships with your kids.
This doesn’t mean we don’t have boundaries, consequences and tough conversations. However, when we focus on communicating optimism, love and empathy even when setting boundaries, giving consequences and having tough conversations, it takes these to a new level and makes them so much more powerful.
When my husband and I were trying to remember to demonstrate these three values in our parenting, I noticed the three words formed the acronym “OLE,” and we started using that to remind ourselves of these concepts in the heat of the moment. It seemed fitting since the word olé is a Spanish word used as a shout of approval or encouragement.
Olé parenting keeps us from getting in a power struggle and becoming our children’s opponent. Olé helps us love them well while still allowing them to own their own problems. Olé helps them to acknowledge their mistakes while maintaining a healthy self-concept because they know they are loved and that we believe they have what it takes to be successful. Olé gives them a vision of the realistic success that is possible for them.
Want to practice more olé in your parenting? Here are some ideas—
- Put a reminder on your phone, on your mirror or anywhere that will prompt you to emphasize olé in your parenting.
- Make a goal to use olé in all your interactions with your kids for the next few weeks and see how it impacts those interactions.
- Ask questions and listen carefully to your kids’ opinions, even when you don’t agree.
- Speak to your kids calmly and with respect, even when they have crossed a line.
- Take advantage of every opportunity to give positive feedback.
- At the end of the day, ask yourself where you demonstrated olé and where you could have demonstrated it more.
So, when your teenagers don’t get the grade that you know they can, when they argue and are defiant, when they forgot homework for the tenth time, or when you find out they have done things you never thought they would do, tell yourself olé before going in to have those hard conversations. And keep telling yourself olé as they grow into adulthood and continue making mistakes that are now adult size.
How have you shown optimism, love and empathy in your parenting? What is one step you want to take to practice more of these?