I was having lunch with a friend the other day and she was discussing her children and some of the choices they were making as adults. She was concerned about her son who had decided to quit his day job, downsize significantly and pursue his dream of being an artist. Her daughter had decided to adopt a child and while financially stable, she would be parenting alone. These things concerned my friend and I asked what she was going to say to her children. She said, “Nothing. Not my monkeys. Not my circus. My job as a mom is to just be there for them at this point – to listen to them and love them and, if asked, to help them explore the options.”

I thought that was pretty wise.

One of the trickiest rivers to navigate as a parent is deciding – whose problem is it? When we do this successfully, our “to do” list gets a whole lot shorter and our kids get to learn a whole lot more so that they’re ready for life.

One of my favorite Parenting with Love & Logic tips is to think of yourself as a consultant. A consultant doesn’t tell people what to do. They provide choices, feedback, ideas & options. A good consultant has empathy for her/his clients and they want what’s best for them. They teach clients to trust their own instincts, to rely on their own better judgement and to believe in themselves and their choices.

When things work out, the consultant celebrates with their client. When things don’t work out, the consultant won’t clean up the mess, but they’ll be there with encouragement and support.

We want our kids to be innovative problem solvers and to think for themselves. To do that, they need to learn to resolve their own problems with support from their parents.

The challenging part is sorting out when it’s our problem or their problem. Once we know that, we can help them brainstorm solutions if they’re open to that – or allow them to work through their own problems while we’re available to provide some free consulting.