Love, Balance, and Problem SolvingMar 09, 2023
Last week I introduced the 5 C’s (see The 5 C's to Amazing Parenting), and I’ll get back to them very soon; I’ll expand upon each of those concepts and start teaching you psychology-based tools that fall under each of the 5 C’s categories. But first, let me take a step back and tell you about my overall parenting philosophy. It’s essential to understand the bigger picture before focusing on the specific tools to use every day. So read on and see if my philosophy is consistent with your approach to parenting.
Here’s my global view of parenting: There is no one perfect parenting style, but rather doing what works best for the match-up between you and your child. This means a slightly different approach for every family. Within each family, this may mean a somewhat different approach for every child. Nonetheless, there are some core features that apply to every family as a whole. For example, the approach that works for me and for my 4 munchkins merges several seemingly dichotomous core features: I’m pro-baby carrying, pro-breastfeeding, and started my kids later in preschool than most Americans, yet I favor a structured household and used a cry-it-out approach to sleep training if my babies weren’t sleeping through the night at 6 months. Does that mean you must use the same core features in your household? Absolutely not. Those are just examples of the kind of individual choices that we must make daily as parents. And remember, those parenting choices will vary from family to family and even from child to child in that family.
What does matter is that our thoughts align on broader overarching parenting principles because those guide my Parenting With Psychology program. I can summarize my parenting philosophy into 3 overarching principles.
First, I place great emphasis on how I interact with my children daily. In their first few years of life, parents have a tremendous ability to shape their child’s development. For an at-home parent, your interactions with your child matter 24/7. Everything you do and say to your children daily adds up over time and develops into their view of you and the world. There are many hugs and kisses at our house, and I pay close attention to my word choice. I want my children to know that they are unconditionally loved and to become warm and happy people. This goal stems from the concept of unconditional positive regard, popularized by humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers in the 1950s. As part of this, I always try to speak to my children in a loving, kind, and supportive way and react calmly and appropriately. This may sound simple, but it is certainly not easy and often requires incredible patience (especially since the household chaos level jumped up a notch after having our third child), but it’s critical to amazing parenting. Remember, this is a goal, not a constant reality. We all get upset sometimes and overreact sometimes, but having this image of amazing parenting in my mind always helps me to get back to that behavior as quickly as possible when I encounter obstacles.
Loving your children does not mean you should cater to their every request and indulge their every desire. In addition to being warm and happy people, I also want my children to be conscientious, patient, responsible, independent, and resilient. Children need tremendous guidance in their early years, and I provide clear and consistent expectations for my children’s behavior. Our influence is greatest in the first 5 years. Once they start full-time school, there are so many other influences in their life, and our daily interaction time is greatly diminished; we have to hope that we have instilled a solid foundation of good behavior in our children. While loving them unconditionally, each day, I work on molding them into the kind and respectful adults they one day will become. Children are a work in progress; you must pick and choose your battles, tackling just a few behaviors at a time. This second part of my parenting approach is about balance – balancing your child’s behavior today with the behavior you hope they’ll have when they are 5 years old, then 11 years old, and then 18 years old.
The third part of my approach is using problem-solving skills to tackle all my parenting dilemmas. Training children is not easy, and we often find ourselves stumped by our children's behavior. Rather than getting frustrated and overwhelmed, I like to think of parenting as an exciting challenge and attempt to solve the problems we encounter together. This is where a problem-solving approach to parenting comes in handy; if your technique isn’t working, search for another and keep trying different options until you find one that works for you and your child. I’ll teach you the problem-solving approach I use in an upcoming post. For now, please know that parents have many tools in their toolbox, and with some perseverance and patience, you can help your children through any challenging phase.
Does my parenting philosophy of love, balance, and problem-solving resonate with you? Think about it this week, and I hope you find that our parenting styles match up. You’ll notice that all of my parenting tips stem from this overarching philosophy. If our core parenting principles align, my tips will provide tremendous value to you on your parenting journey.