Parenting: The Early Years
‘A child can only become an adult with the help of an adult’. This definition by well-known Dutch educational psychologist M.J Langeveld sums up the vital role that the parent plays in the healthy development of the child. It is unfortunate that the primary adults in the child’s life – the parents and teachers – seldom work together in dealing with the child and whatever problems arise. Low turnout at meetings for parents which occur in so many pre-schools and primary schools suggest that parents do no want to take responsibility in acknowledging their role as the key player in their child’s life. It seems that the sources of difficulties may lie in the stressful lives that today’s parents endure. Also, as parenting does not come with a recipe book, many parents flounder and as a result lack the empathy needed to address their child’s needs. Struggling to cope with their own adult problems, some parents are not even aware of how important early consistent tender nurturing is in order to promote early child emotional attachment to their child.
A caring parent who is prepared to take full responsibility for their child’s secure well-being is a person every society should cherish. Responsible and responsive parents can ensure that the fabric of society will not be rent with violence, alienation, school drop-outs, suicides, drug abuse, and other tragic attempts by adolescents to deaden their personal pain or to carve out a feeling of power. Quality parenting is the secret indispensable ingredient to provide the inner core of self-love and self-esteem that sustains each growing child and permits that child, in turn, to care for others in ways that sustain family and community. This type of caring gives inner courage to cope with problems so that the child can both lead a productive personal life as well as contribute to society.
In his book Your Child’s Self Esteem,, D.C. Briggs states that
parents are the mirror wherein young children find their inner true selves reflected as either essentially lovable or sadly unworthy.
These feelings of unworthiness are often as a result of too much dependency or control by the parent. The child that feels loveable and has high self-worth is the independent child who is allowed and able to persevere and take on challenges.
Parents who love their children ‘to bits’ and want to protect them from all harm and who feel guilty and responsible for all their child’s problems should remember that cherishing does not mean smothering. They need to understand that wanting a child to do well cannot be forced but rather encouraged in a healthy way whereby they ensure that their child can deal with losing, is able to share and is quite willing to take on challenges without fear. Too much enmeshment or too much isolation emotionally withers the souls of young children
Think about it, parenting is a job whereby we have no job description and no effective training, yet the majority of parents are unwilling to acknowledge that they generally have no idea as to what they are doing and are either parenting from a comfort zone or by trial and error. Imagine if all I had to do in order to fly a Boeing was to read the instruction manual. Do I really have any chance of getting that craft into the air the moment that I get into the cockpit. The same reasoning can be applied to parents who read dozens of parenting manuals but yet are not doing a great job although they are trying their best. Very few parents phone into talk shows on parenting for fear that someone may recognize their voice and then see them as an inadequate parent.
Just think of what a strange job parenting is: We cherish and protect, worry over sniffles, blow noses, tie shoelaces, read stories, help with homework, patiently try and teach moral values and respect towards other, yet the aim of parenting should be that children can grow up to make their own choices and take responsibility for the choices that they make in order to eventually live calmly and effectively on their own without parental help. If the job of parenting is done well, it is done so that parents eventually work themselves OUT of a job!
Parenting Book This book gives help and guidance, including tips for dealing with all manner of child behaviours and other developmental problems. Parenting unfortunately does not come with a do-it-yourself manual for how parents can help their children reach their full potential. With this as your guide, however, you can help the child or children in your care achieve to their fullest abilities.