Parents impact their children’s development and lives in profound and often enduring ways. Parents love their child , a creation full of potential waiting to be realized by way attachment and pleasure in moment to moment connections.
Parenting is also a very challenging role. Sometimes, a parent can feel overwhelmed with the difficulty of trying to understand what a child wants or needs. Confusion, conflict, misunderstanding, and distress need not overshadow a loving relationship.
The good news is that we can learn the wisdom and skills required to raise moral, emotionally healthy, and socially-competent children with good self esteem , confidence in their abilities to form healthy relationships and meet their needs and life goals.
Parents are not born with the expertise needed to understand child development and how to promote it. Mostly, beliefs and attitudes about how to parent are shaped by what we learned, witnessed or experienced at home as children growing up with our parents. Some of us also had access to observing different styles of parenting in our friends’ families, or through reading and the media. Cultural attitudes also contributed to ideas about parenting, For example, the only requirement needed to be a good parent is to love your child. If only it were so simple!
Parenting is also a paradigm for our own growth. Yes, we need to learn lots about child and adolescent development, and we need to learn and appreciate our child’s strengths and weaknesses and what responses facilitate experiences of success. However, we need to also become conscious of what we bring to parenting our child. Can you remember a time when you responded using words or actions that conflicted with your beliefs about good parenting and thinking “where did that come from”? Awareness of our own experiences growing up, developing good emotional regulation skills, nurturing our capacity to reflect and then choose a helping response, allow us to grow as well as promote our child’s healthy development.
At the times that are difficult and perhaps feel like “too much”, a consultation with a child and family psychotherapist can be helpful and often pivotal in promoting development and quality of life for parent and child.