Parenting is about a relationship. In essence, our role is to introduce our children to themselves. This is an area of focus we think is very underutilized and underrepresented when it comes to parenting. There are plenty of children therapists, but few parent therapists. Most of the time, when children act out we tend to put the focus on the children’s behavior instead of on our own. Just to be clear, we don’t believe that it’s all the parents fault for the children’s behavior. Clearly, children have a mind and will of their own. But the task is learning how to hold space and redirect in a new way. Our experience is that parents need help both in keeping a strong attachment and still being “in charge” with the children. Children need both nurture and structure.
Structure focused parenting
The crux of the problem and challenge is that children (over time) start to come into having their own will / voice. This is actually a good and necessary thing. The challenge is they are learning to have their will / voice and it usually will go against yours. In every system (family, work, etc), we need an alpha, so part of parenting is staying in the alpha role, but still nurturing the child. Our focus is not on consequences and behavioral punishments. Research shows those methods work in the short-term, but don’t really solve the deeper issues. The work is to be both firm and kind.
Attachment focused parenting
Attach, attach, attach…attachment is our primary signal that we are okay in our relationships. Our bodies intuitively know when we feel connected. Attachment-focused parenting puts the emphasis on us as a parent, not the child, to be the nurturing, consistent, caregiver. The challenge is that we will tend to either be too attachment-focused (enmeshment) or not attachment-focused enough (withdrawn / absent). This is where the problems start to arise with the child. But instead of putting pressure on the child, we believe it’s our task as the parent to find ways of connecting that are clean and healthy.
exploring our own story
There is a parenting book we like, called “How Children Raise Parents”. It goes without saying, parenting is very hard. Parenting will send us to our knees and in many ways invites us to be broken. The reality is that we learned how to parent (whether we like it or not) from our parents and therefore will mirror that style to our own children. Many try to parent an entirely different way, but there are always underlying issues / wounds we incurred. The truth is that there is no perfect parent. Our task is not to be perfect, but “good enough”. What we as parents are called to do is understand our own wounds / story and hope to heal those wounds so we don’t pass those down to the next generation.