Parenting, the Hardest Job in the World!

We see a reflection of ourselves in our children, often projecting our own issues and assumptions about what our children need based on what we feel was missing for us growing up. One of the greatest joys and the most difficult revelations is what we see of ourselves in our own child.  All relationships are the interaction between ourselves and others.  When it comes to our children, it is reinforced by the genetics of looks and mannerisms which highlight the sameness to ourselves.  When we look at our child, we can sometimes see our past child self as well as our more developed adult attributes and challenges, in addition to those of our partner and both sides of the family tree. It is all perception.

Many of us grew up feeling that we did not receive enough ______________ from our parents.  Was that attention, toys, guidance, love ….?  That was us — a different generation, a different time.  But what do all children need?  What is universal?  Children all need a supportive, loving presence.  Someone they can count on.  Someone who is reliable, steady and keeps their promises.  Support can be provided with hugs and kisses, explanations, and listening to them with your undivided attention.  Think about offering your child 30 seconds of your undivided attention every day — waking them up in the morning with a kiss, holding hands on a walk, sitting next to each other watching TV, asking them for help in setting the table.

Children of all ages need to feel they have value.  By giving them choices and allowing them to make decisions, you are giving them a sense of control, and they are less likely to try and take it through acting out and defiance. Try not to engage in a tug of war.  When they are demanding, identify what is negotiable and non-negotiable.  For example, Sam says, “I don’t want to do my homework.”  Instead of saying, “You have to do your homework.”  Identify what homework he has.  Is any of it easy?  Can it be broken into smaller pieces?  Can you connect with him because math was always hard for you too? Don’t make it all or nothing.  Doing some of the homework and avoiding tears and tantrums is a victory.

Our greatest role as parents is in modeling behavior and thereby highlighting what we value.  Our children are watching us all the time.  They sense our feelings and energy in ways that we no longer can because we have a further developed cognitive sense and are no longer as observant or relate to the physicality of our feelings in the same way a child would.

I would like to offer a challenge for you to jot down your three top values.  Are they kindness, education, helping others, loyalty, friendliness, generosity, the importance of family?  Once you know what they are, you can identify opportunities to highlight them for your child.  These are teaching moments.  For example, perhaps you are sad about something one of your relatives said to you that was hurtful.  Your child notices and you explain, “I am sad because I think family is so important and I don’t like anything to come between myself and another family member, especially if it means we don’t talk to each other anymore.” You have explained the situation; children often perceive that when something goes wrong in their family it is their fault.  By explaining your feelings, you model that it is ok to be sad, that you value family and that the child is not the source or cause of your sadness.

Parenting is truly the hardest job in the world.  It requires your presence, an understanding of self, as well as what values you want to pass on to your child.  But if you have any doubts about what kind of job you are doing, just remember that the most important step is just to be there.

Katie Militello

Clinical Intern

Coherence Associates, Inc.

(760) 942-8663

Parenting, the Hardest Job in the World!
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