LET’S TALK ABOUT PARENTING. As an addiction counselor I see the worst of parents and the best of parents. And, I don’t think I have ever really seen any bad children—just bad parents.
Parenting is a huge responsibility. According to the definition: “Parenting is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. “
“Adulthood” is not limited to the legal age of eighteen. They turn 18, they leave, and, while you are reviewing your “To Do When The Kids Leave” list, they multiply, and, often, return home so you can help them “subparent”.
Did you know that, in the US, there are almost three million grandparents raising their grandchildren?
I often share my wisdom of child rearing with my clients: “They are watching and listening to everything you (primary parents) are doing and saying. AND, someday they are going to play it back to you.”
Wisdom often comes from my clients that grew up with the “worst” of parenting.
One of the most profound insights I received: “You know, MAx, I was brought up in a horrible family situation. I now know everyone in that family was mentally ill. What I am thinking is that I learned to be mentally, and I passed that on to my kids because I didn’t know anything else. So, if I learned that behavior, can’t I unlearn it?” (given permission to repeat this by client).
As we often learn after the birth of the first child—the “gift” bag they give you in the hospital as you are leaving with newborn—doesn’t include a “Manual of Operation”. I, like many young women of my generation, was a follower of “Dr. Spock”, not from Star Trek, the first pediatrician /”psychoanalyst” to publish a “How To..” book for parents. “Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care”, published in 1946.
Dr. Spock’s five beliefs about raising children:
1. Trust your instincts,
2. Routines are nice, but babies don’t need a strict regimen,
3. Don’t fret if your baby acts funny; Freud can explain it,
4. Ideas about good parenting should evolve, and
5. Babies need love (primarily by their mothers)
By the time of his death in 1998, almost three generations after the book, Dr. Spock admitted he was wrong about some of these beliefs. Can you guess which ones?
My clients, two generations removed from Spock, are showing humility and courage raising their children . They advocate for their child’s health and safety. They define their own norms; ie: being a single mother is doable; or, good parents don’t have to be biological; father is needed, too. They listen to their instincts and seek answers if they are not sure.
It takes humility and courage to be one of the “best” parents.
“…. promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. “
Glad we talked about this. Of course, it is just my opinion.
You can comment on this article and make suggestions for future columns, at HealerToday.com. Or, snail mail your topics to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440.