Perhaps the most difficult task we have mothers and fathers ahead is to get our children to become the best version of themselves. But how is this accomplished? For the teacher and co-founder of the project aprendeaeducar.org Francisco Castaño the key is in the norms, the limits and the affection. He gives us the details in his latest book: ‘The best version of your son’, edited by Actual Platform.
– Francisco, the title of your book already makes it clear, that our son is the best version of himself, largely, it depends on us, the parents … Are we qualified for a task of such dimensions?
Yes of course. The theme is that we have to train. Before educating was easier, because we lived in a simpler society, the values were implicit in the environment … And, in addition, there were far fewer things to educate. Now, with social networks, the Internet, television … there are many inputs. And you have to train. Many courses of training for many things (work, hobbies …) but for the most important work, the education of our children, we do not train as much.
– Despite the fact that society has changed, we continue to reproduce many of the behaviors or techniques that our parents used with us. Do we have to reinvent ourselves?
Today’s society has nothing to do with before. So we cannot educate in the same way that we were educated. There are new challenges, and we have to be prepared to face them. T We have to educate in this society, the one we have had to live in, not the one our parents lived in, which was totally different.
– Is the main challenge as parents to educate our behaviors, more than that of our children?
What you say makes sense, we educate more with what we do than with what we say. Therefore, it seems logical to reach that conclusion. What we have to be is consistent. If I am not punctual, I cannot demand that my son be punctual, because I lose my moral authority. We expect our children to do things that we do not do. No, this is wrong.
– Rules, limits and affection you say is the magic recipe in dealing with our children …
Children need a lot of love. More than food, look. But this is not at odds with setting limits and being firm. I give my children a lot of love … but that does not mean that they know that they have to be home at eleven, and that they have to clear the table and put the dirty clothes in the basket … And being firm is not Being authoritarian is simply setting limits and rules.
– You say in the book that being understanding is not the same as being permissive. We know the theory. However, when putting it into practice, we often confuse these two concepts. Do you agree?
I can understand that my son is late one day. That is being understanding. For example, my son goes after a girl, and he has not listened to him throughout the course, but that day he starts talking to him at 8:50 pm and at 9:00 pm he has to be home. Well, it is logical that that day is late. And it is so logical that I understand it, but I am not permissive. Tomorrow you will have to come home earlier, to make up for the extra time you took the day before. That is the difference between understanding and permissive. If I allow you to be late today, tomorrow you won’t be serious about being on time. You will not experience the consequences of your actions.
– What is the most difficult thing to educate?
I have it very clear: leave emotions aside. For example, if your child loves to play on the mobile, when you take it away, he will cry or he will be angry. Well, the one you don’t have to be mad at you are you. You already know that will happen. Or, for example, if your son is not very tidy, you know that the room is not going to be very tidy, miracles to Lourdes, but I cannot be angry. What I have to look for is a strategy to get her to order. And here the consequences come into play. For example, my son knows what clothes he leaves out of the laundry basket, clothes that are confiscated for 15 days. Sure, when the one confiscated is his favorite T-shirt … he remembers next time and learns to put the clothes in the basket. I don’t get mad at him because he leaves the clothes out of the basket, I understand, he is messy, but I do look for a strategy so he can learn.
– You touch on the subject of expectations in the book … and you summarize this chapter with a phrase: “we have to educate the son we have, not the one we would like to have.”
Clear. When I was a child, the expectations were that we all went to university, because our parents had not been able to go. With children you have to have illusions, not expectations. If you generate expectations you are lost. Because as your child does not comply, you get frustrated and your child lowers self-esteem. And the illusion if it is important, you must have an illusion to accompany your son in the search for his best version. And if your son likes to be a carpenter, your role is to help him become the best carpenter in the world.
– What is, according to your point of view, the main mistake that mothers and fathers make today?
Doctor Daniel López Rosetti, head of the Stress Medicine service at the San Isidro Hospital in Buenos Aires, who has a study on happiness, says that “a person is happy when he has quality of life”, which is not the same what standard of living. Standard of living is having a Ferrari at the door and three million euros in the bank account. Quality of life is when the difference between what you have and what you want is small. What do we parents do to make our children happy? We increase what they have to get to what they want, even when what we give them is totally beyond our means. And I’m not just talking about the material, I’m also talking about letting them be late every day, etc. The problem is that the more we increase what they have, the more their desires increase. The increase is exponential. Therefore, they are never able to be happy. The problem is that, we seek their happiness by giving them everything and it is the other way around, we have to make them see that they cannot have everything they want, which is going to make them feel better emotionally. We have to learn to say NO to our children. This is not going to make them unhappy, quite the contrary.
– Adolescence is the stage of our children that has the worst press … Why are we so afraid? Is it as serious as they paint it?
We have to be clear that in adolescence our children are a boiling pot of hormones, they begin to have critical judgment and, therefore, they begin to position themselves and reveal themselves. In addition, what his friend Javier says that he has 14 years of life experience is what is most valuable. We have to make this clear beforehand. Adolescence is rebellion. Can you imagine that your children could see now in Youtube what we did when we were 15 years old? Sure, that makes you reflect. It would be good if we remembered how we were with her age, but we forget. Is it necessary, therefore, to be afraid of adolescence? No. Depending on what you do between 0 and 12, our children’s adolescence will be, more or less, difficult.
– Communicating with our children is not questioning them, you say in the book, any other advice that you consider essential for those parents who are at this stage?
Communication must be encouraged, how? Talking about the things that interest them. For a teenager, group membership is basic. If they listen to trap music in his group, he will also listen to it. Well, you will have to listen to cheating with your child, watch their YouTube channels … without judging them. The problem is that parents only want to talk to our children about the grades, the studies, or the rules we set for them. So my advice is: talk to your kids about the things that interest them and be prepared to hear things you don’t like. Don’t react badly, swallow hard, because if not then she won’t tell you anything.
– Adolescents, queues in discotheques without masks, is it the group that is having the most trouble complying with the rules? Or is he being charged with the dead?
First of all, let’s not demonize teenagers. I go to the street and there are teenagers who do not wear a mask, but also adults. In addition, it is important that we put ourselves in their place. They are rebellious, we cannot pretend that they comply with the rules without question. Nor can we fall into the imposition: “if you do not wear the mask you will not leave home.” Because she’s going to go out the door and take it off. Then you need to understand your lack of risk awareness. The only thing we can do as parents is to comply with all the measures, so that they see us do it and explain the importance of the matter, so that they know what is correct. But, above all, understand. Because who hasn’t been put at risk as a teenager? Everyone. And a teenager who has not seen his girlfriend for 3 months, who tells him to keep the distance of two meters now?
– Has it been the group that has had the worst time during confinement? Because of their need for social life, to be in contact with their peer group …
I would not say that there has been a group that has had a worse time than another. Some people, some adults, some children, some adolescents have had a bad time … but not a specific group. Have teenagers had a bad time? There will be those who do, but there are many who do not, who have been so comfortable.