Have you ever said I’ll never be like my parent? No doubt you meant it at the time, but later found yourself repeating a phrase or statement they have used. If so, you are in good company. Most have experienced this phenomenon once or twice. All of us have experienced situations in our childhood that we felt were handled wrong and may even have been a bit traumatizing. Things you would never want to repeat with your child.
Parents set the stage for your beliefs and values. It’s the first place you experienced social interaction. To demonstrate the impact of socialization, think about having chilled monkey brains for dinner. If you were raised in this country that’s probably not your first choice but if raised in an Eastern culture it would be a delicacy. We don’t know who discovered water but it wasn’t a fish! To them the water had always been there.
This is similar to parenting practices. There is a whole area of study, Amago therapy, dedicated to identifying the impact of childhood experiences on choosing a life partner which is rooted in similar conceptualizations (Jean Clark & Connie Dawson1998). Consequently one is greatly impacted by their experiences in childhood and we can’t easily escape them.
Every decision one makes in parenting is a culmination of how your parents treated you and what they believed was important. Knowing this can give one a tool to be the parent they want to be. You can decide what you believe, in light of factual information not vague feelings. Many well intended parents try to give their child everything. This leads to an expectation that they will always get what they want. In life things don’t work that way. The boss is not likely to subscribe to this belief. However, the employee may have great difficulty accepting the reality of the situation, possiblily leading to temination of employment at some point.
Selfishnes occurs when one is unwilling or unable to consider the impact of their behavior on others, thinking only of one’s self. If the child has never had to consider the impact of their actions because others are always defering to their wants and desires, they are unlikely to spontaneously develope the concept of considering the impact of their behavior later in life. Bulling in our schools is a well known example.
To meet the goal of raising a well rounded child one must determine where their automatic reactions originate. Start by asking, if my beliefs are helpful, do they lead toward your goals for your child or is there a better way.
It’s important to identify what qualities you are trying to instill in your child and ask yourself often, is my reaction guiding my child toward those qualities or not.
When people say it takes a village to raise a child there is good reason. It’s true. Despite our best efforts no one person can meet all the needs of another individual. Consequently, we all without exception miss something in raising our children. Parents aren’t and don’t have to be perfect. In light of this knowledge, parenting is no longer considered good or bad. Parenting is referred to as good enough parenting reflecting a more realistic perspective.
The development of predictable structure is one of the most important parenting responsibilities. Following through when the rules are challanged, in a calm dispassionate manner, is another very important responsibility of parenting. These two guidelines represent the foundation of good enough parenting.
Teaching a child to self soothe is another important qualiy in good enough parenting. This is an aspect that is under valued in our culture. The ability to self soothe increases the quality of ones life, eliminating unproductive stress.
Consequently, identifying the origins of our automatic reactions, choosing reactions that meet the goals we have for our children and letting go of unrealistic expectations will allow parents to relax and the child to flourish.
We are all in this together, shaping the society of the future and establishing the quality of the lives of our children.