How do you make sure it's your voice as a parent your kids hear above them all?By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There are a lot of voices out there talking to your children these days…so how do you make sure it’s your voice they hear above them all?

“That relationship starts really young I think it’s important for parents to always make kids feel comfortable and confident and you start building that platform from an extremely early age,” Dr. Elise Vandamia from New Directions Counseling Services says.

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Dr. Vandamia says it’s important to establish that relationship early because when you’re child hits the rebellion age.

“You can say to yourself, listen, these are the things that we will and won’t do, these are the parameters that I will parent in, but then life throws you circumstances that you weren’t necessarily anticipating and so, of course, you have to be flexible and you have to make adjustments,” she said.

This experienced counselor has seen plenty of parents who want to be good parents but also be fun parents.

“I think it’s important for kids to know the difference, right, you know you got to know when it’s time to be serious and when it’s time to be fun, but as a parent, there are expectations that you set,” she explained. “You can be flexible in them but you are always the guide you are always the parent you don’t ever get to kind of take that hat off.”

One of the hardest things for many is to sit back and let your child fail even when you see it coming.

“The biggest lessons are in the losses you know there’s no lessons if you don’t really lose something in that process,” she said. “You kind of can’t bubble wrap your kids through life, and you can’t panic when they make mistakes. Think it’s really about how they get back up.”

Dr. Vandamia says the progress of parenting is that you hold their hands as a child, walk beside them through the middle years, and then walk behind them ready to help as they work through their teenage years towards adulthood.

She added: don’t compare your parenting to how your parents handled you.

“It’s not even fair to compare, you know what we did when we were kids because the world is different,” Dr. Vandamia said.

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The biggest difference is social media and she says parents need to understand the TikTok, Instagram world.

“It’s just important to be relatable so that you can understand the magnitude, like if you didn’t know what it meant to be shamed on social media,” she said. “I can’t imagine how you could have a conversation with your kid about how you can help teach them to navigate that and come back from it.”

Dr. Vandamia says don’t underestimate the impact of social media.

“It can make a person really feel like I’m not that great, or don’t have that much,” Dr. Vandamia said.

That does not mean you have to become a ‘cool’ TikTok posting parent.

“It could be that maybe embarrassing for them or maybe you know you’re drawing attention to yourself in a way that makes your kids uncomfortable,” she reminds parents. “You kind of have to give them some space to grow as they’re growing.”

Dr. Vandamia says you can’t afford to ignore your child’s involvement in social media.

“I’m talking about a huge chunk of young people’s lives today,” she said. “That’s their world and taking a huge chunk of that and it’s not even on the table for discussion is a mistake.”

Parents will always be parents and children their biggest challenge in life.

“It’s like not easy to grow up, and there’s a lot going on, and you have to like be understanding that with all these things coming at them in all these directions, it’s important for them to feel like they have a home base a safe spot,” she said.

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For example, she says you can’t be a parent who says call me if you get in trouble and I’ll come get you with no questions asked and then come down on them like a hammer if they do reach out.