Family relationships are the most important relationships. The family system is a small social system in which children learn relationship skills. As adults we use the skills we learned in our family as we were growing up. How we relate to one another, as adults, has a deep effect on how we feel about ourselves. We carry these feelings with us into our relationships at work and other social settings.
Attuned parenting requires that parents be secure, self-aware and able to relax well enough to let go of other concerns to be fully present as they help their children solve their problems. Proactive problem solving, healthy negotiation and improved communication are some of the skills parents use with one another and their children. Attunement and empathy are vital skills for the couple and their children.
Children develop problems for various reasons. One child with a problem will have an effect on the family system. In good therapy parents learn to develop a style of parenting called “authoritative,” (Baumrind, 1991, p.62), which helps children and their families work their way through problems. In this style of parenting, parents develop a close, nurturing relationship with children, as they maintain structure, boundaries and order in the home. Children are given choices, responsibilities, and unconditional love. Parents use an attuned, loving, patient and firm approach.
Genuine age-appropriate praise is vital for growing children. Knowledge about child development helps parents give this to their children. Researchers are reporting that to help children build healthy self-esteem, parents need to praise their children three times more often than they criticize or correct them.
Children intuitively know that they need adults to lead them. If parents do not assume this lead, children will often “act out” their feelings until they receive appropriate guidance. Learning what appropriate guidance is and how to use it, is part of family therapy.
Being a “good enough,” (Winnicot, 1953), parent does not have to be difficult or time consuming; it can be fun and highly rewarding. Learning how to balance being loving and firm is a skill everyone can learn. .
“It’s not the honors and the prizes and the fancy outsides of life which ultimately nourish our souls. It’s the knowing that we can be trusted, that we never have to fear the truth, that the bedrock of our very being is good stuff. That’s what makes growing humanity the most potentially glorious enterprise on earth” Fred Rogers
For more information on self esteem and relationships, please see Anne’s articles on her blog.