I think a lot about parenting. I hear so many stories about parents who weren’t able to parent well and their children (my clients) suffered greatly. I am partially convinced that many of the mental health concerns we experience today relate back to ineffective parenting. Yes, there is always a biological component but so much is exacerbated because of environment. Many of those I see today can remember being anxious or depressed in their childhood. Many who have suicidal thoughts as adults can remember having some form of suicidal ideation or dissociation as a child. I remember being at training several years ago about doing brain-based therapy. The presenter discussed how important it is for women with post-partum depression get treated because of the impact of their depression on their parenting on such a critical age. While I think it’s so vital for effective bonding and parenting at the infancy stage, I think it is equally important throughout a child’s complete childhood. I have seen the impact of disconnected parenting through the school age years and even on to the teenage years. I am always evaluating daily my parenting, and often I don’t quite reach the level of being present or mindful or patient as I would like, but parenting is a journey that is far from perfect. I tell all clients that all parents damage their kids in some way, we just hope that damage is minor.
Recently I was doing my 4 year old’s chore chart. She had had some rough days with whining, not following directions, etc. I noticed how she didn’t get a “smiley face” for several of the days and it occurred to me that I have also been a pretty stressed-out parent recently. I realized that her chore chart was not so much a reflection of her behavior but more so, a reflection of my stress level. The days that she struggled with listening and following directions and the days that her whining was incessant were also the days that I had little patience and too much on my “to-do” list. These were the days that my parenting was subpar and my children were attempting as best as they could to reconnect with me. Our children only have so many skills and unfortunately, we do give them much attention when they are whining and misbehaving. I think much of the time, our children just want our undivided attention and our best attempt at parenting. When we give our attention to them, they thrive and behave. We begin to enjoy our precious time with them.
Today I had a million things going on but I realized in the last few days that I have been so busy that neither child has had my undivided attention and has been struggling. I decided to stay home with them and focus my attention on playing with them and just being with them. We had a lovely day. I think that this is what they needed and what I, as their parent, needed as well.
Megan and I are excited to be working on a Parenting Seminar that will come during late October. We will pull from the experts in the field, our knowledge on the developing brain, our own experiences and the experiences and knowledge of our participants. Stay tuned to see the details as they come. And until then, maybe this can serve as a little reminder of what is most important in your life.
Until next time,