By Jay Reed, MSW, LCSW-QS
Parenting is the process of promoting and supporting the development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the intricacies of raising a #child and not exclusively to the biological relationship. What does that all mean? Well simply put, #parenting is the act of helping another younger person #grow physically, emotionally, mentally, intellectually and spiritually.
Parenting is likely the most confusing, and #exhausting experience. It is also the most #rewarding experience. I have never felt so much #joy, #excitement, #despair and utter #disappointment as I have since becoming a #parent.
I can remember at the beginning of my career facilitating a “parenting class”. It was in retrospect somewhat of a disaster. First, I was not a parent; something that was apparent by my lack of knowledge. Second, and most importantly, I was convinced that my #tips were fool proof. Fast forward 10 years and 4 children later I completely share my clients’ hidden disgust towards my younger self’s ignorance towards parenting. I have come to appreciate that being a parent is #complicated and that there is not just one way to get it #right or #wrong for that matter. Now, I’m still relatively new to this parenting thing, but I have come to accept that it’s an ever #evolving process; for me and my #children. As a #bonusmom I have started the treacherous #journey into puberty. As a birth mom I am currently in the throes of the #terribletwos and the woes of VPK. It’s an #adventure. I also spend a great deal of time with #kids at work. I spend upwards of 15 hours a week with other people’s children, who do not hold back in telling me what they think.
Parenting is not only the process of #development of the child, but also the parent. As our children age we come into our own, finding our own way through the wilderness that many have lost themselves in. To confuse matters further research and experts widely contradict each other. Do you listen to those who follow in the foot steps of instinctive parenting; an old school idea of “going with your gut” or simply following the parenting you experienced yourself as a child. Are you a #helicopterparent? Constantly interfering and hovering as your child explores the world. Are you too #indulgent or too #authoritative? I cringe anytime I hear myself say “because I said so” in response to my child’s “whys”.
As a clinician who thrives on their work with children I have come to appreciate that children grow the most when they feel #understood and #loved. Children don’t need evidenced based interventions to help them thrive. They need a parent who cares and loves them; add to that combination understanding and #appreciation you will have a winning approach. I was seeing a middle school girl recently who was referred for counseling because of low esteem. After our initial session it was obvious that she didn’t feel #supported or #accepted by her primary caregivers. She knew she was loved, and she knew she was cared for, but she doubted that she was appreciated or understood. She confided in me that her family often told her she was #weird and she needed to act more “#normal”. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise as I sat there with a sweet, kind, polite young girl who simply had different interests and likes than her family. Their lack of understanding was prompting her own self doubt and resulting in her thinking there was something wrong with her.
This leads me to my point about parenting; I promise it’s simple. Support your kids, always and often. The foundation of all parenting is #support, followed choosely by love. Building on that foundation of support and love can allow you to build a #bond of a lifetime. I am not one to follow too closely theories on development, but I have to say John Bowlby had a pretty great idea when he coined his #attachmenttheory. His idea was simple, that the relationships between a child and their primary caregiver will shape their development and their future #relationships. Attachment parenting promotes support and acceptance of children while understanding a child’s emotional needs.
This idea and my belief is that children thrive when their parents are sensitive to their needs. Children are unique and parents need to understand that their parenting approach should reflect their child’s #unique needs. I have a child who is goofy and highly sensitive; he needs to be #heard and included. I have another child who struggles to verbalize her needs; she needs #patience and #encouragement. I’ve come to appreciate they need different things to grow and it’s my #responsibility to know what that is. The development of our #strong, #emotionalbond has allowed me to better understand my children and meet their needs. Am I a perfect parent? Absolutely not. Am I a hundred percent sure of what I am doing? Never! I am learning and growing just like you.
Share your #parentingstruggles and #parentingwins in comments below and let’s help each other. Supporting another parent and validating their efforts goes a long way.