Updated: Sep 8, 2019
A tactic I used when guiding my daughters was talking one or two levels ahead of where they were. Meaning, when they were in elementary school I talked about middle school, which is one level up. And when possible, I would introduce differences that may emerge or unique challenges when they get to high school, which would be two levels up.
This tactic served multiple purposes: (1) I was not chasing the current dynamic that they lived every day, which may be slightly or significantly different from when I was in their situation. (2) It helped prepare them, whether subtly or forthrightly, for what is over the horizon. (3) It kept them forward looking, either anticipating or preparing for the next change, (4) It allowed for future reference once they actually experienced what I explained years earlier, and (5) It set precedence that I knew what I was talking about since many things came to fruition and thus as they got advice for other "future" situations they had confidence in my projected outcomes (and what to do about them) based on a good track record.
Those are the basic benefits, there are others, but hopefully those five capture the pros of using this framework. For our family, my wife focused prinarily on the current level and how they were navigating challenges of (for this example) elementary school. The classes, classmates, teachers, activities, homework, etc., and she gave advice and assistance to help them. I also helped whenever I needed to, was asked or was of due importance, but it was a secondary focus for me. My primary was the next level up, or second level. I used "what was coming" to teach the girls the lessons they needed to learn or the skills that they should acquire "sooner than later" because "when you get to middle school" this and that changes.
This forward looking approach naturally transitioned as they did. Therefore, once in middle school I stopped talking about it, because they were living it, and I then focused on high school (next level) and started into college (2nd level). And by the time they were in college, I focused on being a young corporate employee and how to be a functional adult. As all adults know, there is always a "next level" ... what I sought was to not have the level "sneak up" on us whereby we are almost exclusively dealing with the now and not setting conditions for the future.
I will go into more details with the 5 benefits in the next post as this tactic was essential in both the adult-child and adult-adult parent child relationship and I want to make clear what the second and third order impact was.
Until then, consider what you spend most of your time talking to your children about, and gauge how often you are talking one or two levels up.
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