Many of us value our role as parent but find little opportunity to really express our feelings. Life and business get in the way of directly speaking our love to our children. Few things are more powerful than the eye-to-eye, boldly stated "I value you. I love you. I want to spend time with you." from Mom or Dad to Son or Daughter.
I worked as a family therapist for 8 years before I entered real estate. I taught folks to solve problems using skills they already possessed. For instance, a skilled firefighter that struggled with depression could be encouraged to use his courage and tenacity to fight a metaphoric monster called "depression". Firefighters are highly organized, well-conditioned, and very brave. One may think that a person like that would not experience depression. But I found that many folks are highly compartmentalized with their skills.
A businessman that can sell even in the toughest economic times may have trouble selling the value of education to his son. A highly skilled accountant may have trouble teaching her children the value of money management. You get the point. Realtors are highly skilled in organizing paperwork, marketing properties, networking, serving customers, and so on. Yet, many of us struggled to use these skills in our role as parent.
Here are 5 ways to use your "Realtor" skills as a parent:
1. Interview your child - When we first view a home, most of us have a set of questions that we ask every seller. It is the same with buyers. Use your analytical skills to come up with a standard set of questions for your children. How well do you know your children? Without grilling or interrogating, how can you ask meaningful questions to better understand your child.
Interviewing is a technique to better understand a person. Employers use it. Therapists use it. Parents should use it also. There are several websites and books to educate parents on effective questions and ways to ask those questions.
2. Keep a file on your child - Most of us keep a file and/or a database with client notes, phone records, move-in dates, and so on. Do you have any kind of file or record on your child. It is easy to forget the date a child first road a bike without training wheels, ran for a touchdown or scored a soccer goal, or went out with a boyfriend/girlfriend. Keep a journal of your child's life, as well as your own. Take time to note your child's feelings, up-and-downs, disappointments, achievements, and thoughts.
You can offer this journal to them when they get married or have children of their own. Yes, it takes a few minutes a day. But you will remember your life and your child's development in a much deeper way. Love is shown in time invested.
3. Plan / Schedule time with your child - We schedule lunches and meetings to build business. We set dates and dinners with friends. Why would we not set special, consistent times with our child? Some may interpret this as too "business-like" or cold. But, it shows our priorities as parents and demonstrates real value for our child. With multiple children, schedule a special time for each child each week.
If I fail to plan, I plan to fail. This may apply most importantly to parenting. What is your parenting plan? Have you ever written down anything on this? Schedule time with your children for deliberate bonding, teaching, guiding, listening, and fun.
4. Give feedback to your child - Many of us have to give sellers and buyers difficult but helpful feedback on the condition of a property. We see it as a fiduciary function that shows we really care as a Realtor. What would prevent us from thinking the same way about a child.
We want to be a "friend" to our child. We want to feel close and warm and fuzzy with our child. But being a parent requires that we put aside friendliness at times and offer honest feedback and guidance in a loving way. We must take time to offer our child guidance and instruction. If your child is making poor decisions, offer your feelings in the form of "I feel that your decisions are...." or "When you choose (whatever), I feel....."
We must have a strong bond and good trust with our child in order to be able to offer honest feedback. The burden for developing this trust lies with us in large part.
5. Follow up with your child - I have noticed that many parents dote over their children during the child's first 2-3 years. When the child becomes able to participate in real conversations, we ask questions and explore the child's inner world. "How do you feel today?" "What are you thinking today?" "What do you want to do tomorrow?" We relate to our children.
If we learn that our child is trying something new or is concerned about a class in school, we have a tremendous opportunity to show our love by following up the next day, the next week, etc. If we have a client that expresses distress due to being laid off, most of us would ask (with each call or email) about the job status. We show the client that we remember their situation and that we care. Do we do the same with our children.
With a client, remembering a birthday or name communicates care and concern. With a child, remembering all the "small" events and challenges communicates love. Write your child a short, handwritten note to follow up on a previous conversation. Leave post-it-notes on their mirror. Send an encouraging email or text.