We can all point the finger of blame at our parents. As we get older however it becomes apparent that they, like ourselves, are simply humans trying to do their best in a world where we are all prone to mistakes of judgement and the perils of control. Eventually we forgive our parents their faults and when we go on to have children of our own it often puts their own foibles in perspective.
However, it is glaringly obvious that the way parents treat their children effects them, often long into their adult lives. A new report featured in this news article draws attention to the fact that children who live with caring parents go on to live happier and more stable lives. Although we have moved away from the clichéd picture of the patient reclining on a chaise longue whilst the psychiatrist quizzes them about their mother, there is a degree to which nurture influences nature.
The trick to bringing up children in my opinion is to adopt good enough parenting. This concept was created by DW Winnicott, who wanted to develop a system where children could deal with the realities of life and the harsh lessons where everything unfortunately isn’t fair, without destroying their aptitude and hunger for life. This is often a difficult path to walk as we all desire to prevent our children from suffering pain or hurt.
Of course, when children do not have the correct boundaries set for their behaviour, this gives them false expectations of life. When their anger and petulance is not met with consequence and when their needs are not tempered, this can often result in an overblown sense of self-importance. The danger is that this early burst of confidence can seem attractive to a parent, with their child growing up and taking on challenges, but ultimately this comes with the price of not being able to deal with failure or allowing others to take the centre of the stage.
Conversely if we are always filling out children’s’ heads full of fear and doubt, they may be easier to control and will come back to you when scared or frightened, but you should ask yourself how long you want this behaviour to continue. It may well be the case that this type of control sets up a pattern that may last until your child is a young adult with no confidence in finding their own way in the world.
How can you find a balance between these two extremes?
If you are currently having difficulty with one of your children, then ACT and CBT can often make a difference to your approach. What would you parenting look like if you had the confidence to know when to let go and when to hold on to difference precepts in accordance with your feelings?
To explore how ACT and CBT can make a difference, please call me and book in a free consultation session, where we can discuss all the various options available to you and look at the best way to move forward.