Parenting is harder than ever. Parents find themselves facing challenges that no other parents in history have had to face, while living in a society which is not always supportive to parenting.
- Rapid advances in technology; cell phones, social media, video games.
- Economic difficulties making it necessary for parents to work more, be available less and still come up short financially.
- Mobility leads to disconnection from the support of family of origin and friends.
- Media is always present or readily available, but not always in line with a family’s values or appropriate for children.
- Conflict around how to parent.
This does not even include typical parenting challenges; such as discipline, setting rules and limits, communication, special needs children, behavioral problems, blended families, addictions, etc. It can be overwhelming.
In general, childhood is one long learning process and parents are the coaches, gently guiding these children through life. A parent’s fears or anxieties may cause even well-meaning parents make some of the following common parenting mistakes:
- Parents prevent their children from experiencing negative feelings. The child’s happiness becomes their main goal. Children need to experience a whole range of emotions and learn how to regulate.
- Parents take away free, unstructured play. It helps them develop knowledge and skills. When children are overscheduled, they may not learn how to problem solve or think creatively.
- Children are burdened with parents’ expectations for them. There is a difference between being encouraging and forcing a child into a role.
- Parents make children responsible for the parent’s emotional state. Children learn early on what makes their parent happy or keeps them calm. Some children take on this role at the expense of their own growth and development.
- Not allow them to have their own thoughts and feelings. Children are often invalidated and taught to ignore their feelings.
Well-meaning parents may not have had good parenting role models or may feel confused by advice. Seeking the help of a professional offers a chance to explore your own parental anxieties which interfere in your ability to see clearly what your child really needs and is capable of. A therapist can help you navigate parenting challenges, set limits and respond without emotional reactivity to your children. A therapist can help couples learn how to parent together, despite differences in parenting styles.
Although there are many books on parenting, one of my favorites is:
Screamfree Parenting: The Revoluntionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool by Hal Edward Runkel www.screamfree.com
Also helpful is the Parenting with Love and Logic program: https://www.loveandlogic.com/parents