When Lauren B. Quetsch and Tim Cavell were brainstorming potential titles for their recently released book, Quetsch suggested “I Love My Kids, But ….”
Quetsch and Cavell are professors of psychology at the University of Arkansas who specialize in child psychology.
The title was written as “extremely negative,” Quetsch said, and ultimately settled on “Good Enough Parenting: A Six-Point Plan for a Stronger Relationship With Your Child.”
The book’s title and content, Cavell says, are meant to push the commonly used phrase “effective parenting.”
“We argue that the myth of effective parenting can sometimes be a burden for parents,” he said. “It seems unfair because it fails to respect many factors, especially the cultural context, the family.”
“Good Enough Parenting” acknowledges that parenting is not only difficult but amazing — and there are times when you want to say, “I love my kids, but . . .”
Often the science-backed books that collect and synthesize data into short quips about how to be an effective parent don’t actually state that you, as a parent, will be wrong.
“A good enough parent, just by the nature of the effort, will fail,” he said. “They will not meet the child’s needs, but this is an opportunity for the child to learn about himself. To be a good enough parent is to give the child gifts that will help him learn.”
Actions like limiting screen time or teaching your child another language can be good, but they can also take the focus away from what Quetsch and Cavell believe is the most important part of parenting: learning to relate to your child.
“It’s a long-term, one-sided gig,” Cavell said. “It’s about managing relationships, not managing behavior.”
To help parents create a good relationship with their child, Quetsch and Cavell identified six pillars that focus on how to connect.
Use these 6 pillars to better connect with your children
With every other endeavor in your life, you probably have a personal goal. But with children, many parents only consider what their children want.
In their book, Quetsch and Cavell suggest thinking about what you want to be as a parent.
Then when you ask yourself if you’re “doing well,” you’re not comparing yourself to the books you’ve read or other parents you’ve seen. You can check with your own goals.
Don’t keep going toward unreasonable goals as your child grows, says Quetsch.
“We can have ideas about how we want to parent and talk about it,” she said, “but when you really get into it, your children will give you their own temperament, and you think you have it all figured out. , and can neither.”
More often than not, your goals will change over time. “It’s an ongoing discussion,” she said.
Like goals, “health” is about your health, not your child’s. Quetsch and Cavell believe that it is important to maintain good physical health, but also prioritize emotional health.
Practicing mindfulness before and after you have children is key to parenting today.
Is the way your life is organized now child-friendly? What rules and rituals do they follow?
These are things you should think about before your child is born.
“Do you have a chaotic life or one that gives you a sense of security?” Cavell asked.
After you have a child, you will probably have to make some changes in the way you live, but it is better to know what structure you are bringing your child into.
By making an effort to understand and love your child and not leading him away from what he wants, you are sending him a message that he receives. When a child feels accepted, they don’t question where they stand with you or how much you value them.
Cavell encourages parents to adopt a “posture of discovery” when relating to their children.
“You have a preconceived preconceived notion of this child,” he said. “We thought it would be one way, so they came. Let’s find out who this kid is and if we can make a rhythm with this kid.”
Is that exactly what you get these days?
Quetsch gives the example of a couple whose child is being counseled who just wants to play with the clock. The couple was concerned that their child was not participating in other activities that children his age enjoyed.
Quetsch’s advice: Just play with the clock.
Some children will misbehave more than others. A parent who punishes too much can destroy the relationship between him and the child, but a parent with a light touch can lose his child’s respect.
Between controlling mischievous children and entertaining them, there is a third option: contain them.
Containing means meeting the child where. Be selective about the fights you want to pick.
In one sentence you can empathize with children not wanting to go to school while also enforcing the rules that they must go out the door.
Leading sits conceptually between receiving and containing.
It shows parents modeling values that children want, but not intervening if the child’s behavior doesn’t match those values.
This is especially important for parents of older children who are trying to be autonomous.
‘It’s about how to build relationships’
Integrating these pillars into your parenting won’t have short-term effects, says Cavell.
Getting your child’s tantrums at the grocery store won’t end any time soon.
Consciousness may not provide the necessary amount of patience for a fussy child.
After all, Cavell said, “you don’t want to be a victim of bad behavior no matter what your relationship is, and being a parent is no different.”
But focusing on what’s going on between you and your child instead of what parenting books tell you should look like will help your child feel valued and independent.
“It’s not about knowing a lot about parenting,” Cavell said. “It’s about how to build relationships.”
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