The Trauma Recovery Institute

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CONSCIOUS PARENTING

The model of parenting most of us grew up with was authoritarian parenting, which is based on fear. Some of us may have grown up with permissive parenting, which is also based on fear. Authoritarian parenting is based on the child’s fear of losing the parent’s love. Permissive parenting is based on the parent’s fear of losing the child’s love. Connection parenting is based on love instead of fear. Connection Parenting recognizes that securing and maintaining a healthy parent-child bond is our primary work as parents and the key to our children’s optimal human development. Our effectiveness as parents is in direct proportion to the strength of the bond we have with our child. Connection Parenting promotes parenting practices that support a strong, healthy parent-child bond.

Both authoritarian parenting and permissive parenting are reactive. Connection parenting is proactive. Rather than focusing on ways to discipline children when their feelings of disconnection result in uncooperative or unacceptable behavior, Connection Parenting focuses on ways to maintain and increase the parent-child bond/connection. Connection parenting is an ideal, a navigation star we can look to for guidance. Whenever we question how to respond to a child we can ask ourselves, will this response create a connection or a disconnection. We feel connected when we feel listened to and loved. We feel disconnected when we feel hurt and unheard.

Sometimes a child’s behavior will push our buttons and we react rather than respond. As soon as we realize we have created a disconnect, we can reconnect by doing the following:
Rewind – Acknowledge we have said or done something hurtful
Repair – Apologize and ask for forgiveness
Replay – Respond with love and listening
Even if we can’t parent in the most nurturing ways all the time, the more often we can, the more our children get what they need, the better they will be able to weather the times when we parent in less nurturing ways. A parenting philosophy is relevant only to the extent that it promotes parenting practices which support secure bonding. Our effectiveness as parents is in direct proportion to the strength of the bond we have with our child. Securing and maintaining that bond is our primary work as parents and is the key to optimal human development. Parents often tell me that they find parenting advice to be confusing and contradictory. They ask, “How do I tell the difference between ‘good’ parenting advice and ‘bad’ parenting advice? One expert or book says to do one thing and another tells me to do the exact opposite? How am I to know what is best for my child?”
My best answer to that question is the question I ask myself: “If I follow this advice, will I create a connection or a disconnection with my child?” When a parent’s behavior creates a connection, the child feels that the parent is on his side, and their bond and connection is strengthened. When a parent’s behavior creates a disconnection, the child feels that the parent is against him, and their bond and connection is weakened. Since parents’ effectiveness is in direct proportion to the strength of the bond and connection they have with their child, any advice that undermines the strength of that bond is counterproductive.
In any interaction with a child, will my words or actions strengthen or weaken our connection?
All children are born to grow, to develop, to live, to love, and to articulate their needs and feelings for their self protection. For their development, children need the respect and protection of adults who take them seriously, love them, and honestly help them to become oriented in the world. When these vital needs are frustrated and children are, instead, abused for the sake of adults’ needs by being exploited, beaten, punished, taken advantage of, manipulated, neglected, or deceived without the intervention of any witness, then their integrity will be lastingly impaired.
The normal reactions to such injury should be anger and pain. Since children in this hurtful kind of environment are forbidden to express their anger, however, and since it would be unbearable to experience their pain all alone, they are compelled to suppress their feelings, repress all memory of the trauma, and idealize those guilty of the abuse. Later they will have no memory of what was done to them. Disassociated from the original cause, their feelings of anger, helplessness, despair, longing, anxiety, and pain will find expression I destructive acts against others (criminal behavior, mass murder) or against themselves (drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution psychic disorders and suicide).
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For some years now, it has been possible to prove, through new therapeutic methods, that repressed traumatic experiences of childhood are stored up in the body and, though unconscious, exert an influence even in adulthood. In addition, electronic testing of the fetus has revealed a fact previously unknown to most adults, that a child responds to and learns both tenderness and cruelty from the very beginning.
 

“The level of cooperation parents get from their children is usually equal to the level of connection children feel with their parents.”

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