Join the “Inner Circle” Membership FREE…Click Here!
(This article is a repost but I like it…)
A bumper sticker on the back of an expensive recreational vehicle read: “We’re spending our children’s inheritance.” While many parents strive to save wealth and property to hand down to their children, how many parents will make an effort to leave a spiritual inheritance for them? How do parents invest in the wealth of their children’s moral well being? What transactions should parents engage in to create ethical returns in their child’s behavior?
These are some of the questions we will look at in this second installment on “The Moral Development in Children.” To help with the answers, we asked Mimi Doe, author of the book “10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting” and a group of spiritually minded parents for practical advice on creating a spiritual inheritance.
“Mirror, Mirror”In the introduction to her book, Doe writes: “Children are spiritual beings.” She considers a child’s spirituality to be innate but that parents and other adults “clobber it out of them.” Parents who want to develop moral and ethical behavior in children must nurture these qualities in their child. One of reasons parents “clobber” or discourage these qualities in children is that they are not attuned with their own spirituality.
Parents are psychological and spiritual mirrors to children. “Children form their earliest ideas about God, the world, people, and trust from what is mirrored from you,” says Doe.How do you act, or react, to circumstances? Do you scream at the guy who just cut you off on the road? Do you make fun of other people? Do you tantrum when you are frustrated? A child’s identity is filtered through the beliefs and behaviors of their parent.
A parent from the online support group stated it this way: “The most important heritage we can leave our children is to have them be richly aware of God’s presence and working in our lives. The way we perceive and explain the events of day-to-day life; how we live will determine their spiritual inheritance.”That’s a heavy load for many parents who didn’t grow up in a spiritual or moral home or feel too overwhelmed by life to try and be “perfect” in front of their children. Not having moral models, in parents own lives, may mean that being a moral mirror is difficult, it is never too late to develop one’s own spirituality. Doing so doesn’t require a strict religious training or dogma asserts Doe. While that might work for some parents, a day-to-day way of being, with our child, and us, is all that is needed.
Another mother of the Parents Work Bench expressed, “If I teach my children to build their treasures on heavenly things: love, peace, patience, and kindness, that is being a real mother.” Perhaps many of the physical things parents are currently doing, that make them exhausted, are actually teaching an anti-moral lesson.“Weave spirituality into your everyday rhythm; your daily routines,” prescribes Doe. “It doesn’t take any more time to light a candle and flip on Mozart than to turn on the television or news in the morning.”
The moral of this moral lesson is mirror to your children what you want to see in them. And if your children are not displaying the kinds of behavior, who consider right, take a look in the mirror first, to see what your child is seeing and possibly mimicking.The Spirit of Discipline
Doe suggests that parents let go of people or situations that drag them and the children down, physically and spiritually. When you are around exciting and stimulating people whom love life, you feel excited and full of life too, right? But when you are around people and situations that deplete the emotional reserves, you feel negative and empty.The same is true for children. They need vibrant, spiritual parents who give them life. And, they need parents to make tough decisions about where they should go, what they should watch, who they should socialize with, to help them develop their spiritual and moral selves. If this is done early in a child’s life, they will have a better chance latter in life, to act morally and know the value of their own spirituality. A proverb, in the Holy Bible, says, “Train a child when he is young and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Sound investment tips there!
A common complaint of American parents is that they no longer have the tools to teach children right from wrong. Parents argue that because their tool of spanking is gone, so is their ability to discipline. In light of the principles of spiritual and moral development, the problem may not be technique, but lack of “spirit.” Without the inner discipline, taught by a parents words and deeds, the outer discipline is unprofitable (spiritually speaking).Making Spiritual Transactions
So, what can a parent do to increase the interest rate of their child’s moral bank account? Doe offers various exercises, affirmations, and activities for parents for each spiritual parenting principle:Spiritual Principle #1: Knowing God Cares for You. “Establish daily spiritual habits and household rituals and pray anytime you hear a siren. Send a blessing to everyone involved in the emergency incident, paint or draw pictures of God, point out simple signs of God in your child’s life: the perfect snowflake, the lunar eclipse, the magic of spring. Learn about the worlds religions and create a family alter.”
Spiritual Principle #2: Trust and teach that all life is connected and has a purpose. “Bring nature inside and let your family observe growth&Get involved in neighborhood beautification projects. Celebrate Earth Day. Take a hike, plant a butterfly garden or window box. Adopt a cause.”Spiritual Principle #3: Listen to your child. “Have mealtime conversations&ask your child to write some prayers that the whole family can use&Make dates for one-on-one with your children&Set up specific discussion themes and times&Read books with your child&have family meetings&Wish upon a star with your child.”
Spiritual Principle #4: Words are important, use them with care. “Write a poem about your pets&Create a cartoon character that represents you. Create a story box. Grab your journal before you go to sleep at night and jot down five images of your child from the day and write the story of your child’s birth. Plant secret love notes. Pray together as a family and tape record your daily conversations.”Spiritual Principle #5: Allow and encourage dreams, wishes and hopes. “Spend time role-playing a dream, create a dream book and point out examples of good luck throughout the day. Encourage team activities, sports, and interest groups. Ask each family member to draw or write his goals or dreams”
Spiritual Principle #6: Add magic to the ordinary. “Look for the fairy in the soap bubbles when you wash dishes and walk in the rain. Arrange the bedsheets into a tent and turn an ordinary night into an enchanted imaginary camp-out. Watch the moon come out. Have a picnic indoors. Try waking your child with a song. Play in the snow and come up with a family logo or family slogan.”Spiritual Principle #7: Create a flexible structure. “Take a recess from dishwashing for a night&turn out the lights and just use candles, have fun with a monthly dinner with international cuisine and music. Choose a direction and walk for ten minutes that way, get silly, talk in a silly language.”
Spiritual Principle #8: Be a positive mirror for your child. “Acknowledge your mistakes&sing hymns, drum, chant, or pray&Ask the blessing at mealtimes, say goodnight prayers, ask for a safe journey&laugh&List five traits you like about yourself as a child&support and cheer on others&yell or hold up cheering signs&smile.”Spiritual Principle #9: Release the struggle. “Release you image of an ideal family and accept that children are not always going to please you. Take a quiet day, slow down, help your child create a peaceful place in her mind and imagine a restful setting. Ask your child to place his hands on his heart. Feel the beating and picture light around your home. Meditate, take a hot bath, form a parent group. Push back the furniture and allow your child to dance their energy out.”
Spiritual Principle #10: Make each day a new beginning. “Validate successes at the day’s end, even small ones such as waking up on time, It’s alright to say no. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Rethink your priorities today. Play with the idea that you have no limits. Start the morning on a peaceful note. If it means making lunches and laying out school clothes the night before, do so, get up fifteen minutes earlier. Encourage children to eat slowly. Walk like a winner. In the evening visualize how you would like tomorrow to turn out.”Start Early and Grow Spiritually Rich
Most financial advisors show the need to start investing early in life. They love to demonstrate how a small, monthly investment, over the long haul, reaps greater financial rewards over large investments later in life. Spiritually, parents need to invest early and consistently, in small ways. But parents can start late too. In the moral and spiritual market, late can be almost as good as early, to invest.“Begin today,” states Doe. “Create your family rituals, celebrations, and traditions. Begin cultivating a code of honor in your family. That’s spiritual parenting.”
Or as another parent on the list exclaims: “If I die tomorrow, I will have died a woman who taught her children that power within us, above us, and around us, and to always respect that power and use it in a manner that will help others the way they would want to be helped.”References:
Doe, M & Walch, M. (1998). 10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting. Harper Perennial, New York.
You can get more information on Mimi Doe and her 10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting athttp://www.pink-bubble.com
Ron Huxley’s Comments: In this video, actress Goldie Hawn talks about the importance of teaching children mindfulness. Her program is called MindUp and takes only a few minutes a day. Mindfulness research is promising huge improvements in mental health. Some of it gets, well, a bit out there! For the most part, however, it holds great benefits in improving mood, increases focus, and promote self-control. What child doesn’t need that? What parent doesn’t need that?
How many of the parents, reading this column, are perfect parents? None? Well, how many of the imperfect parents, reading this column, have perfect children? Still none? While it may be that perfect parents don’t need to read this column, I think the real truth is that there are no perfect parents or perfect children. If that is true, then why do so many parents act as if there is such a being as the “perfect parent” or “perfect child?”
To illustrate my point, try completing the following sentences. Just say the first thing that comes to mind:
A good parent always…
Good children should…
As a parent, I must…
My children ought to be more…
If I were more like my own parents, I would be more…
If a parent falls short of these standards, and so, is not a “good” parent, what does that leave the parent to be? Parents are left with the belief that he or she is a “bad” parent. These beliefs are responsible for why parents feel so out of control and powerless in their parenting roles. Parents need more realistic beliefs about parenting. Realistic Beliefs about Parenting Beliefs are expressions of parent’s values about themselves, other people, and the world. Unrealistic beliefs create a feeling of demand that pushes and drives parents unnecessarily where realistic beliefs create a feeling of inner stability, even when circumstances aren’t always stable.
One way to create more realistic beliefs is to evaluate the evidence for your unrealistic thoughts about parenting. Ask yourself these questions: What law states that a child will always listen and be respectful? What evidence really suggests that all parents must be available to their children at all times? What edict states that I must be perfect?
For one day, make a list of all the negative thoughts that come to mind as you go about your parenting duties. At the end of the day, look over the list and write out alternative, positive counter-thoughts. Whenever the negative thoughts come up, immediate state the alternative thought to break its power over you. If it is too hard to remember them all, pick one or two of the negative thoughts that create the most interference in your parenting and counter those only. Do that for about a week and then move down the list to the others. Changing what you say about your parenting will change how your feel about your parenting.
Try this experiment: complete the following incomplete sentences and notice the emotional difference between these and the first list.
A responsible parent always…
Good children sometimes…
As a parent, I can be…
I desire my children to be more…
If I were like my own parents, the positive qualities I would like to have…
Only one word was changed in each of these sentences and yet it dramatically changes how you think and feel. If you are going to accept the fact that you are imperfect then you will have to eliminate “perfection” language from your thoughts and words. You will need to accept the fact that you are acting “good-enough.” This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for more out of yourselves or your child. Self-improvement is not the same as expecting perfection It takes courage to be a “good-enough” parent.
This is what the child psychiatrist, Rudolph Driekurs, calls “the courage to be imperfect.” While there are plenty of perfect parenting standards to fail short of, there are no rules for how to be an imperfect parent. Here are ten un-commandments for developing the “courage to be imperfect”:
1. Children should be encouraged, not expected, to seek perfection.
2. Accept who you are rather than try to be more than or as good as other parents.
3. Mistakes are aids to learning. Mistakes are not signs of failure. Anticipating or fearing mistakes will make us more vulnerable to failure.
4. Mistakes are unavoidable and are less important than what the parent does after he or she makes a mistake.
5. Set realistic standards for yourself and your child. Don’t try correcting or changing too many things at one time.
6. Develop a sense of your strengths and your weaknesses.
7. Mutual respect, between parent and child, starts by valuing yourself. Recognize your own dignity and worth before you try and show your child their dignity and worth.
8. Unhappy parents are frequently discouraged, competitive, unrealistic in their standard for themselves and their children, over ambitious, and unbalanced in their love and limits.
9. High standards and expectations are frequently related to parent’s feelings of inferiority and lack of adequate parenting resources.
10. Parents need to develop the courage to cope with the challenges of living, which means, they must develop the “courage to be imperfect.”
I just learned about Dr. Aletha Solter’s book and principles of Aware Parenting. I don’t know why it took so long to become acquainted with her work but her ideas are extremely close to my own thoughts on parenting. Her ideas are timely in this day of discovery about the healing aspects of mindfulness. Read through her 10 Principles and see where they resonate with your own parenting thoughts. Source: http://www.awareparenting.com/english.htm “1. Aware parents fill their children’s needs for physical contact (holding, cuddling, etc.). They do not worry about "spoiling” their children.
2. Aware parents accept the entire range of emotions and listen non-judgmentally to children’s expressions of feelings. They realize that they cannot prevent all sadness, anger, or frustration, and they do not attempt to stop children from releasing painful feelings through crying or raging.
3. Aware parents offer age-appropriate stimulation, and trust children to learn at their own rate and in their own way. They do not try to hurry children on to new stages of development.
4. Aware parents offer encouragement for learning new skills, but do not judge children’s performance with either criticism or evaluative praise.
5. Aware parents spend time each day giving full attention to their children. During this special, quality time, they observe, listen, respond, and join in their children’s play (if invited to do so), but they do not direct the children’s activities.
6. Aware parents protect children from danger, but they do not attempt to prevent all of their children’s mistakes, problems, or conflicts.
7. Aware parents encourage children to be autonomous problem-solvers and help only when needed. They do not solve their children’s problems for them.
8. Aware parents set reasonable boundaries and limits, gently guide children towards acceptable behavior, and consider everyone’s needs when solving conflicts. They do not control children with bribes, rewards, threats, or punishments of any kind.
9. Aware parents take care of themselves and are honest about their own needs and feelings. They do not sacrifice themselves to the point of becoming resentful.
10. Aware parents strive to be aware of the ways in which their own childhood pain interferes with their ability to be good parents, and they make conscious efforts to avoid passing on their own hurts to their children.
Aware Parenting is based on the work of Dr. Aletha Solter. For more information, please see Dr. Aletha Solter’s books, The Aware Baby, Helping Young Children Flourish, Tears and Tantrums, and Raising Drug-Free Kids“
Research articles often have a “duh” factor when it comes to outcomes in various studies. After you read them you think “I could have told you that!” The up side of academic studies is that they point a laser light of attention on areas of life that need attention. Society seems more willing to spend money and time on correcting problems when we draw a big circle around a social problem in the lab.
This was true, for me, of a study on the level of parental insightfulness and maternal depression (see clip below). The findings of the study was that mom’s (why do we always study moms!) who were depressed are less likely to be able to see life from the vantage point of their children. This results in less emotional attachment and parenting effectiveness. The obviousness of this research is that mom’s or dad’s that are depressed are less likely to see much of anything outside of their own internal pain. This isn’t a slam on depressed parents. I have experienced it and it isn’t purposeful. Depression is usually due to a chemical imbalance and requires professional interventions that may or may not involve medications.
I mention this study on the blog because I want draw a big circle around this issue and say that the long-term effects of a poor attachment between parent and child can have some serious effects on self-esteem and future relationships. I guess this is a call to action for anyone who feels they are depressed, even occasionally. Help yourself and your child by getting some help. There is plenty of help available, from changing diets to clinical therapy. I have found that playing with my child lifts my mood even when I was tired and emotionally down.
“Insightfulness is seen as the mental capacity that provides the context for a secure child–parent attachment. It involves the ability to see things from the child’s perspective and is based on insight into the child’s motives, a complex view of the child and openness to new information about the child. To test our hypothesis that maternal insightfulness is related to maternal depression, we utilized the Insightfulness Assessment (IA) developed by Oppenheim and Koren-Karie to conduct and analyse interviews in which mothers discussed their perceptions of video segments of their interactions with their children. We compared the results of a control group of 30 mothers without a diagnosis of depression with a sample of 23 mothers diagnosed with depression (International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision). As expected, depression was negatively related to maternal insightfulness.”
Source: onlinelibrary.wiley.com Share what you have done to increase your mood and deal with depression by leaving a comment below or posting on our Facebook ParentingToolbox Page.
My wife and I have a joke that we tell each other and family members: It takes a minimum of 17 hugs a day to feel normal. I will confess that there is no scientific research that supports 17 hugs per day therapy…at least not yet. Nevertheless, we have come to recognize that need for touch and have adopted the idea that hugs, at least 17 is what gets us through the daily life hassles.
At a recent conference on Attachment Theory, where there was some real scientific data, a presenter on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stated that data suggests that the little stressors of everyday living can add up to the same effects of someone who has undergone a single, major life trauma, like a robbery or death of a loved one or car accident. We let these little incidents of life go by without any real concern. Perhaps we feel embarrassed to admit how much a poor marriage or teenager defiance or even workplace stress really does affect us.
Can parents acts as prevention specialists for our children. As adults, we need 17 hugs just to maintain normal living. Our children need them to counter the cumulative effects of stress on their lives to avoid PTCS – Post Traumatic Childhood Stress. If you don’t believe there is a such a thing, just observe children interacting on a play ground. There are some mean things thrown back and forth on the jungle gym, let me tell you! Add to that some homework pressures and the constant media bombardment of negative words and images and what child wouldn’t feel slightly traumatized? As parents, the least we can do is give some touch therapy with a few hugs a day.
John Bowlby, the great attachment theorist, stated that attachment is essential to normal development (see my blog post on this here). Guardians are supposed to be our safe haven from life. Home should be a place of refuge from the constant stress of school and work. Granted, there are chores and homework to be done but how can you carve our 30 minutes a day for some connection. Parents are quick to use Time-Out, how about some Time-In? It might be good for mom and dad too.
Starting today, give a few more hugs than usual. It is OK to start slow and work your way up. And yes, teenagers love them too. You just have to be a little more crafty in your approach.
There are a lot of very good parenting techniques available to parents in the form of parenting books, videos and classes. I have written and taught them myself. What you don’t often hear about is how to “do” parenting when the rubber hits the road. How do you get through the daily grind of life and keep a cheerful face and engage your child (or for some us multiple children)? My best parenting advice is this: Be silly. I know, parenting should be serious, shouldn’t it? The truth is that it is serious way too often.
Silliness is a useful way to lighten up the mood in the home and to engage bored or irritable children. Over the years I have used variations on the silly theme with mostly good effect. Here’s a few to try on and see how they fit for you:
Change the game rules Parents can get exhausted playing the same old game of “Go Fish” or “Sorry.” Anything done hundreds of times can be hum drum. Spice it up by changing the game rules. Use a pirate voice when playing a card game. “Argh, give me your fours!” Narrate the characters in the book you read at bedtime every night. Act it out instead of reading it. This weekend I played my niece, nephews and grandson Ping Pong Poetry. Every time you hit the ball you have to rhyme a word: Ping, sing, ring, thing, king, etc. It resulted in several belly laughs.
Tell a joke This is perhaps the simplest silly strategy. Have a long car ride? Tell a few Knock-Knock jokes. OK, you might have to do a google search first to come up with a few but it will be worth the research! I have one I told me kids over and over again. They groaned every time I would start to tell it but I could tell by their smiles they loved the “tradition” of it as well. Want to hear it? “How do you make a hanky (hankerchief) dance? Put a little boogie in it.” Made you laugh? I know it is a little irreverent but isn’t that the point here?
Make up a song Need to get your kids to focus and march in a file through a store without touching everything? Come up with a marching song and sing it (quietly) as you go down the aisles. Preschool teachers do this all the time to get kids to clean up their mess and move to a new classroom activity. Use it at home too.
Food can be fun Got a picky eater? Dinner time always turns into a fight? Use the food to create some fun. Put coloring food into the milk. Make a game out of how slowly you can eat. Wiggle your nose at others around the table and see who can catch who doing it. Eat in courses, switch seats for each one or use your opposite eating hand to do it. Make faces out of the foot as you place it on the plate. We often use special pancake forms on the griddle to make dinosaur shapes. A lot of food is package in shapes of animals or other character. I enjoy bitting their heads off. Sorry, but I do. Have a crunching contest – keeps kids focused and eating mom!
Wear funny slippers My sister-in-law came over for the weekend and wore fluffy pink slippers most of the weekend. She was comfortable and the kids loved making fun of her. Keep a full house of people energized and in good humor. Alternate this strategy by wearing bright clothing, mix patterns or act cool in your shades. I am sure you have a few silly tricks up your sleeve.
I have spent a lifetime being defensive. The world, frankly, is a harsh place to live and over time one can become quite hyper vigilant and self-protective. It takes some risk to put yourself out there after suffering rejection and betrayal. Unfortunately, that is the only way to live in an intimate relationship with other people, like your family.
I get that there are abusers out there and it may not be wise counsel to open yourself to that. I am not asking for anyone to be a victim. I am addressing the more basic, day-to-day willingness to be open and non-defensive. I have spoken about the benefits of this in other posts on TransPARENTcy, etc. It may be worthwhile to read those posts.
Try an experiment with me: Put your worst foot forward. Instead of covering up your mistakes or telling little white lies about your parenting performance, try sharing a parenting issue you really want to change about yourself. You will have to pick the right moment and to be safe, the right person at first. After you do that, ask for some honest feedback. I mean really honest. Look the person in the eye and don’t talk until they are done. If they hedge their comments, ask for further clarification until you get to the bone of truth. Finally, state your appreciation and willingness to consider incorporating that information. Take the next 24 hours to do just that.
I wonder what response this will initiate in others? I am curious what it will do to you if you can live in a non-defensive position? Protecting ourselves takes energy. Lots of it. What would happen with all that creative juice if you applied it to making your parenting better versus avoiding change?
Change is uncomfortable but nothing real and satisfying is achieved by avoiding it. The biggest therapeutic truth I know (I didn’t say I always practice it) is that you have to go through the pain to get to the other side. I wonder what that other side will look like for you in your closest relationships.
- tranPARENTcy (parentingtoolbox.com)
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that being a parent today is tougher than ever before. Blame it on the moral decay of society, the impersonal nature of technology or the breakup of the home. Either way, contemporary parents feel out of touch with themselves and their children.
The solution is not to turn back time but to open our selves up to our children. As stress bombards today’s families, parents retreat farther into their private self leaving a fully functioning but completely unsatisfactory public self to go through the daily routines of work and family life. This deprives both parent and child of the intimacy and closeness they both want and desire.
Ironically, strength comes through vulnerability. Letting children see our
frustrations, pain, and failure can be a valuable lesson to them. Many parents can’t see the wisdom in being transparent to their children. Already debilitated, they can’t understand why they should give away their power. This notion of power comes from a false parenting authority of “Do it because I said so” or “I am the parent therefore you must obey!” This is not true strength. This is force. Strangely enough, giving up this false strength will lead parents to the true power of intimacy in their family relationships.
Children are naturally curious. They love to explore and learn. Parents can use this drive to increase intimacy with their children. The first step is to make/take time out of busy schedules to really be with children. TransPARENTcy is achieved in those unstructured but regular moments with children. It can be in the car on the way to or from school. It can be at a regularly scheduled playtime at home. It can be during the last few minutes of the day tucking your child into bed. The actual arrangement is not as important as simply making the most of everyday interactions with children.
To do this parents need to get comfortable being in the here-and-now with children. Children are naturally present focused. They are not worried about their future or their past. Get into that present moment with your child. Be aware of the environment you find yourself in and talk about those things with your child. This is how a child learn about the world. Encourage questions. Eliminate judgment about right and wrong and instead let your child explore ideas about the world to help them find ethical answers. Talk about your child’s thoughts and feelings in as objective a manner as possible and then share your own thoughts and feelings without lecture or sermonizing.
Honesty is still the best policy when it comes to our emotions. If parents feel one of the primary emotions: mad, sad or glad, share them honestly. Hiding these emotions lead to negative behaviors on the parts of both parent and child. Of course if parents are going through a major depression or anxiety children should not take the place of a good therapist or become the emotional dumping ground for a parent’s stressful life. Instead, parents can model how to manage difficult feelings so that children can learn how to regulate theirs.
The truth is that parents can’t hide their emotions even if they want to. Most likely children already know when their parents are mad or sad even if they try to hide them. Children were nonverbal long before they were verbal making them experts of the unspoken expression. If mom or dad find their own emotions so horrible that they can’t be honest about them, maybe children shouldn’t trust their emotions either.
Many parents believe that by covering their own emotions they are protecting their children. Consequently, parents put on an act to only show positive feelings. This gives children a one-sided view of life making them unprepared to cope with others in the real world. This form of protection is really for the parent not the child. Children are harmed not helped by this belief.
Many parents who want greater connection with their children never experienced it as a child themselves. It is frightening to be transparent with anyone, especially one’s children. The greatest risk of vulnerability will come when parents must admit a mistake. To avoid this risk parents try not to reveal their inadequacies to their children causing children to mistrust what parents say and do. This is not the way build stronger bonds.
If parents want to be an appropriate role model and achieve greater intimacy with their children they will need to admit their humanness. Even more frightening for parents is the idea that they might need to ask forgiveness of their child for a word or action acted out in anger. Forgiveness has a spiritual quality that transcends emotional hurts and repairs relationships. It opens doors of intimacy that would otherwise remain locked shut by hurts and resentments.
Taking this type of risks can be particularly difficult for fathers. There is an old notion that fathers must be proud, strong and therefore invulnerable. The rationale is that this behavior teaches boys how to be a man. Unfortunately, it teaches all the wrong things and ill prepares boys for future relationships. Today’s sons need dads who understand the importance of learning from one’s failures as well as successes.
Create a Family Team
Some parents complain that the reason they cannot be transparent with their child is due to conflicts in personality. When children and parents have drastically different moods, reactions and motivations, it can make connecting quite a chore. To overcome this problem, parents try and focus on similarities versus differences. While this is helpful, it is also important to concentrate on those differences that divide parent and child.
Talking about personality differences can actually be a way to connect to a child. Discuss how you and your child are different and why that makes each of you unique. Explore the various ways to process or react to life. Never define the differences as deviant, just different. Learn from the other person’s viewpoint and discover compromises that fit you both.
Parents can use personality differences to build a powerful “family team.” Match individual interests, skills and desires so that each person compliments the others. The role of the parents, in these family teams, is to cheer lead each personality. Make the motto: “one for all and all for one” your new slogan for family transparency.
The surest path to transparency is empathy. Empathy is the act of communicating our understanding of a child’s feelings, thoughts and needs without being overwhelmed or taking responsibility for them. This will be tough for parents who believe that parenting is simply about taking care of their child physically and not emotionally. Children with the best self-image have parents who validate their emotions. Consequently, these same children report feeling more connected and open with their parents.
Some of the most effective parenting classes have at there root the concept of empathy. The philosophy is simple: You can’t harm a child if you are being empathic with a child. And the reverse is true as well: Your child will be more cooperative because he or she feels more connected. Intimacy is rarely looked on as discipline. While it doesn’t negate the need for consistency and rules, homes without empathy get very little true cooperation. Oh,
there is compliance, in the short term, but there is little cooperation. And there is little connection.
Fortunately, empathy is a learned skill. It requires parents to do three things: give full attention, paraphrase a child’s words and reflect a child’s underlying feelings. With practice parents can use empathy to create a healthy, intimate relationship with their children.
Facing the Future Now
If it is true that families today are experiencing greater stress than families of the past. This makes intimacy more challenging. More conscious effort on the part of parents to counteract this imbalance. While our technology might continue to progress, our relationships can continue to become more impersonal. True intimacy in families require parents to use the skills discussed here to be real with their children. This will require risk from both mom and dads. A change in attitude may be required that is different from how parents grew up. Traditional roles may need to be revised. TransPARENTcy is a skill that parents can practice to enhance family teamwork and connection.