The Number One Parenting Tip
In order to be good parents to our children, we must be able to place them at the center of our world. This involves considering our motivation when interacting with them and endeavoring to put what they need first This is often easier said than done because up until the point that we become parents, regardless of how selfless we think we are, we have never been on the receiving end of such complete and utter dependence. This responsibility can easily and unwittingly be abused and misunderstood and so in order to limit our children’s exposure to our ‘issues’, we must step back from ourselves and be clear about our rationales and inspirations.
For example, is it essential to our children’s physical and psychological well being that they learn a particular skill right now (e.g. saying please and thank you, eating with their mouths closed, being quite in restaurants), are they even developmentally mature enough to master this skills? Or are we being motivated by own needs (e.g. concern about what other people may need and how our children’s behavior will reflect on us)? Our children are not there to meet our needs; whether this is to feel loved, respected, in control, or good enough. They are not our property, they are not objecting for us to control and we are not entitled to anything from them. However, they are entitled to many of these things from us, this relationship is not a two-way street. It is our job to help them to explore and discover who they are, not to tell them. It is our job to ensure that they feel comfortable and confident in themselves not to hinder and control them with unnecessary rules and expectations and to support them to live in the world balancing their needs with others.
At times this will involve ensuring that our own needs are met in order that we may then meet theirs; even if this is just so that we can see us nurturing and caring for ourselves. However, if we were not placed at the center of our parent’s world it is very difficult for us to move out of the way and allow the next generation to step into this position; if we have not had our turn as the central characters in the family play it is very hard for us to step back into a supporting role.
For assistance in the UK with anything in this article, you can visit The British CBT & Counselling Service which is a team of Doctors of Clinical and Counselling Psychologists who have been offering telephone counseling since 2001. With between 7-9 years of training and a minimum of 3 years post qualification experience, they specialize in CBT for adults and children with a range of mental health problems. They have clinics across the UK offering counseling in Richmond, Clapham, Fulham, Earls Court, Stamford, and Nottingham.