We don’t always get it right when it comes to parenting. We often learn as we go and make the best decisions we can, for our children at the time. When it comes to the topic of parenting, Lisa Hein of Seminole has certainly walked the path. She offers strikingly candid, real and compassionate advice based on her experience raising her son.
Now an acclaimed parenting author, radio talk show host and speaker, Hein reaches out to help other families by sharing the mistakes and struggles she endured during very trying times. Her gift is her message to other parents that they are not alone in the frustrations and joys that come with parenthood.
Hein’s journey as a mother began when she discovered that she was pregnant with her son at the age of thirty-three. Prepared to take on the responsibility, she learned soon after that she would be experiencing motherhood without the involvement of her partner. With the support of her sister, Hein made the decision to keep her child and took on single parenting with awe and vigor.
A few years later, she married her husband Don when her son was 3-years-old. When her son was going into the sixth grade she relocated with her family to Florida and became a stay-at-home mother so she could spend more time with her son.
Creating an environment where her son wanted to be around the family, Hein explained that her son’s friends were always welcomed at their house. They would play in the backyard and games on the computer. She thought that by being home she was aware of everything her son was doing, but she found that even being right there, he was able to pull the wool over her eyes.
Hein saw that things began to dramatically change when her son was in ninth grade. A once tight family began to unravel right before her eyes. As she realized she really didn’t know how fast the dynamic could change within her family.
When her son entered into his teens, the experience of parenting she had always hoped for, turned into a time of serious searching for answers. Hein’s household was in a state of conflict with verbal fighting, aggression, resentment and sheer exhaustion. The turmoil was making her ill as stress took its toll on her physically and she felt that she had failed as a parent.
Hein says, “When we lived in Denver we were a very religious family and we were grounded in our church. When we moved it seemed as if we had lost our faith foundation as we hadn’t found a church yet. I became very angry at God for the trying times I was going through with my son.”
During this time, Hein began journaling all of her emotions and experiences. It was a release and became another way she could communicate with her son. Writing her son poems and letters, Hein was able to reach him.
When he graduated from high school, she put together her journals which later became the book ,"I'm Doing The Best I Can! They won't always be cute and adorable," which was published in 2007.
In her book, Hein gives lessons learned from her parenting experience of a rebelling teen.“It doesn’t matter what you feel today because that is short term.” She suggests that parents try to understand that their child’s reactions are based on their own perception of what is going on. Parents need to do a self-check of their own emotions and know that they are doing their best. "Accept this, pray and let go.” She also added that we must not be naive about situations that arise with ’other’ children and assume it doesn’t have anything to do with our kids. Just know that if the kids who are getting into trouble are hanging out with your child, they may be doing the same things.
Hein explained that parents need to draw the line between being a friend and a parent. That’s not negotiable. Kids have enough friends, she said. They need a parent who has a backbone and thick skin. When your child gets nasty and resentful, which is normal, don’t respond. Hein says parents should not put up with this behavior or their kids will take over the household. Be firm, and look into their eyes when you speak to them. Set those boundaries and tell your kids what YOU are going to do and then put accountability on them. Make it their choice on how they will respond to the situation. Then walk away, she says. The situation may diffuse because you are not feeding into it.
Getting kids to contribute in the home is also important. Hein suggests that if your child refuses to keep their room clean, take personal belongings away from them and do not give them back so quickly.
“Kids need to learn to respect the hard work that goes behind providing these things for them,” she says.
It is never too late for parents to start changing the way they parent or react, Hein says.
“Parents can tell their child that ‘for today we are going to try things another way’ and go from there. We deprive kids out of life lessons when we are always there to catch them when they make mistakes. They need to fall down sometimes to learn by trial and error. When a child rebels they really don’t want to act that way…it’s a scream for something else they may need.”
She also urges parents to remove internet access and texting from their kids’ cell phones to teach them real communication skills.
At 23-years-old, Hein’s son told her, “Mom, I don’t need you to fix it, I am just telling you how I feel.” This statement really depicted for her what kids also need from their parents – for them to listen.
Touching many parents with her raw and honest experiences, Hein continues to reach out to families so that they can avoid the rough times hers endured. She urges parents to fall back in love with themselves. “We end up being the dog chasing our tail and living up to our children’s expectations. It is important to take care of yourself and learn to honor who you are.”
You can listen to Hein’s radio talk show 'Everyday Parenting' Tuesdays at 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (EST) on www.RadioEarNetwork.com. She talks about everything relating to parenting including healthy lifestyles, finances, self-help, spirituality, etc., and strives to empower parents and their children.
For more information on Lisa Hein, visit her website at www.LisaRHein.com. She has made many television and radio appearances and continues to speak at schools, events, and organizations.