Even if i don’t have children myself, I loved this article from K. Barish. What are your experiences as parents? How do you prefer to raise them ?
Defense of Parents
By Kenneth Barish, Ph.D. on April 1, 2013 – 6:29am
Perhaps it has always been this way, but recently it seems that parents are under attack. The criticisms come from all sides. We are over-involved or overly permissive. We fail to teach traditions and values. We over-diagnose, over-medicate, and over-accommodate our kids, often to excuse our own poor parenting.
Especially, the critics believe, our children are indulged. Like curling athletes, we try to smooth their path through life, eliminating any friction. We are afraid of their tantrums, afraid to let them fail (and then learn from their mistakes) and afraid to say, “No.”
As a result, we are told, our children are “spoiled rotten” – rude, disrespectful, and unwilling to help with even the most basic chores. Some critics suggest that the problem is deeper – that children now believe in their own (undeserved) specialness and importance, and they are unprepared for the inevitable challenges and disappointments they will face as adults.
There is, undoubtedly, some truth in all of these claims. It is certainly not difficult, in our everyday lives, to find appalling examples of parental indulgence, and evidence of increased mental health problems in adolescents and young adults is real and alarming. (1)
My clinical experience, however, suggests a different diagnosis. Yes, we may be too indulgent. More fundamentally, we are too stressed – more burdened and more alone. Both children and parents now have fewer places to turn when they are in need of practical and emotional support.
In three decades of working with children and families, I have, of course, met some indulgent parents. Far more often, I meet thoughtful parents, struggling to find the right balance, in their own lives and in the lives of their children. Most parents want more for their children than individual achievement. They also want them to be “good kids” – children who act with kindness and generosity toward their families, their friends, and their communities.
Too often, however, families get stuck. Concerned and caring parents become, against their best intentions, angry and critical. And children, in turn, become argumentative and stubborn, or secretive and withdrawn. These vicious cycles of criticism and defiance then undermine children’s initiative, confidence, and sense of responsibility.
There are answers to these problems. The answer is not less parenting or Tiger parenting, but highly involved, positive, supportive parenting, informed by advances in clinical and developmental research.
In parenting debates, it is easy to lose sight of what is most important. We do not stop often enough, I believe, to consider how our children look up to us and how we remain for them, throughout their lives, sources of affirmation and emotional support. On this point, developmental research is clear: From kindergarten until they are young adults, children who are doing well in their lives have the benefit of emotional and practical support from their parents, mentors, and friends.
Here are the essential elements of a balanced, supportive approach to raising successful and caring children. It is not either/or. We can encourage our children’s self-expression and also teach them self-restraint.
• We support our children with our warm and enthusiastic encouragement of their interests and talents. Great teachers intuitively understand this, and they should be our role models as parents.
• We offer support to children when we listen patiently and sympathetically to their concerns and their grievances, and when we are willing to repair the conflicts that occur, inevitably, in our relationships. Children learn invaluable lessons from moments of repair. They learn that, although it is not always easy, moments of anger and misunderstanding are moments and can be repaired.
• We provide emotional support for our children when we accept and value their feelings – and then talk with them about the needs and feelings of others.
• We support children when we play and work with them often. Essential social skills are learned in the course of playful interactions. They are not learned in front of a screen, or from lectures and admonishments. When parents play and work with their children, children come to understand and accept, deeply and for the right reasons, the limitations imposed by adult authority. Even 5 minutes a day of interactive play between parents and children is helpful in strengthening parent-child relationships and promoting cooperative behavior in young children.
In many ways, interactive play is to children’s social development what talking with children is to their vocabulary development and what exercise is to their physical development.
• Then, we help them solve problems. When we engage children in the solution of a problem, they become less stuck in making demands or continuing the argument. They begin to think, if just for that minute, less about how to get their way and, instead, about how to solve a problem – about how their needs and the needs of others can be reconciled, an important life lesson, for sure.
• And we should let them know that we are proud of them, for their effort and for the good things they do for others. A child’s confident expectation that her parents are proud of her is an essential good feeling, and an anchor that sustains her in moments of discouragement, temptation, and self-doubt.
In these ways, we strengthen our children’s inner resources and we become an inner presence – a voice of encouragement and moral guidance. Our children will then be more successful in all aspects of their lives. They will have better peer relationships. At home, we will see less argument, less defiance, and less withdrawal. They will also work harder and achieve more in school. And we will have prepared them, as best we can, for coping with the challenges and responsibilities they will face as adults.
(1) See Hara Estroff Marano, A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting (Crown Archetype, 2008).
Copyright Ken Barish, Ph.D.
Kenneth Barish, Ph.D. is the author of Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Emotions
A therapist discussing dissociation and also gives encouragement for those affected with it now this eastern. Remember: you’re all butterflies just waiting to transform
It’s the Easter weekend — a complicated and conflictual weekend for most dissociative trauma survivors. So many layers of your inside levels will be awakened, aware, involved, wondering, waiting, going, sitting, thinking, watching, feeling, remembering, refusing, believing, fighting, crying, calling, hiding, etc. Its a time of being pulled in dozens of different directions all at once.
Lots of headaches, that’s what that means.
And lots of pain. Ouch, ouch, ouch.
So yes… I am thinking of you all, and wishing peace for you. I know it’s difficult. Really difficult.
The Easter season is typically overloaded with the triggers, external pulls, family complications, and spiritual battles. The inside battle within your system may be raging at full intensity.
As best you can, remember to sit with each other, and learn what you can about the others that you see nearby. What struggles are they having? What thoughts are in…
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Right now I’ve placed my professional self in the office chair of my companion, waiting for a new private patient. My stomach is bravely working with biff stroganoff that I bought in a cafeteria right before I came here. I sat down with my iPad and started to read some blogs, which inspired me to start typing myself. I read a lovely little excerpt from a woman’s life, with this question baked in the general text:
If you have never lost yourself, how can you ever find yourself?
It immediately got me, since it so elegantly turns around the meaning of something most people would classify as wrong. I like this small protest against the established, this tendency to surprise and give our brain something new to mull over.
To meet a new human lost in their own nightmare is always something special. It’s knowing we will have to take a journey, sometimes into unpleasant territory. It’s knowing I’ll be there, mostly being a cheerleader and as the one who really tries to see behind masks of fright, sadness or guilt. It’s a discovery, and also feeling someone’s pain with them. It’s feeling my eyes water because once again, someone did what they said they couldn’t: Go into a store when you’re sure you will faint and maybe die, telling you’re best friend what’s really going on
A life consists of different periods, and some of them can be tough. My last 5 months have been hard, and some of my Readers participated on my journey. I have endured every kind of bad weather, and some of you might have felt the drops on Your own skin. I have tried to tie the past, now and the future together, and have been searching for hope after the toughest break-up in my life. What I haven’t written so much about yet, is anger. Mostly I have been afraid, sad and felt lonely, or I’ve regretted mistakes I made in our relationship, but one week ago, I finally got the glimpses of annoyance, frustration and rightful anger.
The evening it happened I was in my bed after another evening thinking about what could have been. I so easily remember the things he told me, how I dreamt about having his children and wearing a beautiful dress for his sake. It was making me feel completely drained, because it could never be and I knew that. Then I also felt the first sparkles of irritation: Why should I go around thinking about everything the relationship meant to me when he hasn`t thought about us at all after we ended it? Why give him so much attention ? I know that if he thought about us, it was just the bad memories, so how could I make myself suffer by thinking about him all the time? There in my bed I felt the need to change this, I needed to feel stronger and more like ME. I felt it was my right to get what I dream of without pain, like it was for him. In my head I have been bowing before his feet, looking down in shame. I said to myself: ENOUGH! And the afraid, little girl, so needy, grew in my minds eye. Suddenly I was a giant, and he was just a small dot down there, that couldn`t hurt me anymore. If I wanted, I could rub the stain that he was, away, and stand taller than ever. I gave myself steel armor and a gold shield. I permitted imprtant people to stand there beside me, placing their arm on my shoulder and promising me that I was more than good enough. I thought that if he couldn’t see my good sides it is his loss, and there and then I didn’t bother how hard he tried to hurt me. I simply didn`t care anymore, and if felt so good.
We need to grow, ground ourself firmly in the earth and act like we deserve the place we inhabit . We are Our own worst enemies, when we choose to believe that rejection means you’re bad. We think the thoughts that can destory us.
The anger was welcome, and I saw it was necessary. I’m still not a 100 % over him, but I can feel how close I am getting. Sometimes I smell the roses on the other side of the fence, as if they grow inside of me. It’s knowing that people can be thorns, but you are the one who pick them up. When an electric shock spreads through you after touching an electrical fence, you knew it could happen. I don’t want to complain, but sometimes it’s okay to feel that life can be hard, and anger can protect you from being treated wrong again.
Sometimes, my life has been like living in the slum. I`ve taken baths in muddy thoughts, surrounded myself with filth and made acquaintance with infectious rats gnawing at what they found.
At times I embraced this way of life, thinking I had no choice. I invited tornado’s into our rooms, destroying the little we had left. Sometimes I didn`t even try to wash myself since normal hygiene took too much energy. At other times, though, I desperately tried to protest and do something about our situation. I tried little things, like tidying inside, walking miles for clean water or rebelled against dirty toilets filled with reminders of how bad it can get. I`ve felt strong, capable and optimistic,
until I felt the draft of air when someone shut my personal door to Narnia . I must admit I even slammed it shut myself, in moment of bitter resentment.
The emotional moments when I could see freedom shining behind that threshold, I often met with my personal Slumdog God of Guilt. He was a stern-looking fellow, who liked to point out the obvious:”I did not deserve that freedom. Could I not see that?” He told me to stay in the slum and to not dream of a better life. How could I continue over the threshold when many poor would be left behind? How could I leave when others were dying, starving and dirty? Shouldn`t I stay there to protect them? I discussed this thoroughly with my friend Shame, who worshipped got Guilt as much as me.
Sometimes, coincidences happen. I was walking through my muddy environment in feverish hunger. My inner GPS broke down, and let me to unknown territory. When my head cleared enough to register my surroundings, I discovered the most beautiful lake I´ve ever seen. Sitting solemnly on a rock, was a calm and serene man. He turned his head and looked at me with the most talkative eyes I´ve ever said. He stretched out his hand while telling me his name: The God of Compassion. The meeting changed my life. He started to follow me everywhere, no matter what I thought about it. He came into my tent, sat down with me and our bugs, put clean sheets on my soiled bed, and gave me warm cups of energy. He told me that thinking about my needs, was also thinking about others. That by turning the energy-switch from 0 to 10 too fast, my ability to help went up in flames. He also said that by punishing myself, by hating and feeling bad for all I did not do, I only made it worse.
The little girl in the slum, God Guilt and my friend Worry were sceptic to the constant presence of him everywhere we went. Our whole lives we were told that Worry and Hard work was the only way to cope. They worshipped Shame and Guilt, and would probably have built a statue of pride for them if they would have time between the constant tasks of worrying about the state of our food ration, our deadly diseases or what we could do to prevent it from killing us kill us. God Guilt always reminded us of the work left, and when the little princess tried to sit down after scrubbing our plates and souls, God Guilt and Shame came with their whips.
God Compassion kept arriving at the little princess`s tent. He let his caramel-flavored words drizzle over
them and promised that nothing would happen if we started to relax more, or think about ourselves. His deep, soothing voice said we were not egoists, and slowly, we started to listen. His words were so sweet, like mint chocolate in our mouths. We could not resist.
To our surprise, this did not lead to punishment. By having less time for God Worry, who some still followed in thick and thin, I saw that the others must have misunderstood what God Worry meant. Maybe the transmission of God´s signal get`s warbled in the slum?
Years later, when I fought my way out of the slum by doing what felt right (no matter if my still present friends Shame and Guilt told me I must think more of others), I met more people who also knew about God Compassion, and were worshipping him instead of Worry, Shame and Doubt. This did not lead to destruction or bad things for others around them. It seemed that the more they followed G. Compassion`s way of life, the more they did for others AND for themselves.
Time and again I`ve tried to show others the truth of God Compassion, but some are always too busy to listen. They have to work, think about what might go wrong, even after everything is better and they have more of what they need. They insist on telling you what`s really important: “My car made this funny sound, so what if it breaks down tomorrow?“. Panic often fill their eyes, fogging out the beauty in plain view. When I was younger, I felt like that, too, but my God of Compassion let me rest. With his soft smile and words he told me: “Everything will be okay. If you just enjoy things now, I`m sure you`ll be able to do whatever you must when the time comes”
Today, I feel like the luckiest person on earth. I feel like a princess, even if I grew up in the slum. And do you know what the best thing is? I`ve met so many fellow slum dogs at my journey. They were also princesses, kings or little queens, but didn`t always realize it, either. All of them were kind, warm and wonderful if you let them show it, no matter how dirty they were before
In the Background: Life in a Delhi Slum (thirdeyemom.com)
What is Faith without Action? (now1040.com)
The sound of broken glass
That feeling, everyone writes on twitter and instagram. It`s one word describing the essence of the unspeakable, the undescribed feelings and moods that live in their own right, without any nametags pulling them down. I got one of them right now. The clock is 07.01 in the morning, and I have been awake for a hour. I streched and curled a bit before I counted to three and flung myself out in the cold winter air. I was more tired that usual, but knew that would be history one proper breakfast later. I went upstairs, now with some semblence of clothes wrapping me, and opened the door. My little Amadeus didn`t come home yesterday, so I crossed my fingers and hoped he would start mewing in annoyance and happiness both. He wasn`t there
I left the door half-open and the lights on, even the blanket and food I put out yesterday, stayed where it was. Disappointed I turned my attention to other tasks, like putting the kettle on and checking my phone for messages. The kettle was easy enough, and usually the checking-part is too, but apparently not when tiredness still hasn`t said vaporized. I have gone through that moment several times in my mind already, so it should be pretty clear as I describe it: I lift my lovely white Iphone, so new and innocent, and am just about to grab it properly, when something goes wrong. It starts sliding out of my hand and I follow its path down to the floor while thinking «oh no» simultanusly as I try to catch it mid-air. My normal table-tennis reflexes were turned off by mr. tiredness, so I could just watch with horror as it slowly fell and fell, until it fell no more but just lied there, still. I secretly crossed my mental fingers one more time as I reached down to check for damage, hoping that like before, it did not break when it touched the floor. I had a bad feeling though, and was rewarded with my guts being right one more time: Small cracks over half its face, scarred forever.
Thats when I got «that feeling», that you only get when something valuable breaks. The intensity of it, was modulated by my fix-it thoughts, but it still lingered inside of me. Its not the first time something in my closest vicinity breaks, and even if I normally handle it with: «Well, life goes on», those episodes keep piling up, building an prison over my feeling of happiness. I know: «Dont cry over spilt milk» and I don`t, but its allowed to have this feeling, just for a little bit, before you let go and focus on what still’s there.