Book: “The Real Purpose of Parenting – The book you wish your parents read”
Author Philip Dembo has made a great contribution in his book “The Real Purpose of Parenting – The book you wish your parents read”.
As a pediatrician and parent of 10 children, I have struggled with parenting my own children and guiding my families who struggle or just want advice. Children don’t come with a manual like the drivers manual for a car or for getting your drivers license. If they did, each would need to be individualized as I find that most kids present their own unique characteristics, personality and needs. In todays fast paced, media full, complex world, I find the message in this book to be especially timely.
Dembo challenges parents to take “responsibility to nurture the truth in their children without their own judgment becoming the agenda, so that their child can fully develop a clear sense of himself, a clear sense of his conscience”. I was raised by parents who were loving, intelligent, and built my self esteem promoting a success mindset, a never give up attitude that served me well, but may have left me out of touch with my feelings. Many of us still parent this way with the focus on goals and success. If this leads to a disconnect between how our children are feeling about their own experience as related to a parent’s expectations (that picture of what you want for them) this results in fear and anxiety. Too often I have fallen into the trap of parenting at the level of decisions and actions with the focus on the results.
The Real Purpose of Parenting, makes a great point in that all people from young children through adulthood, operate from:
Feelings and thoughts precede all action. We make decisions to act either from habits (these can be good or bad) and stemming from our feelings and thoughts. When we parent at the level of decision and actions (result oriented) our children may disconnect from their feelings and attach thoughts to whatever vigilance it takes to portray the “picture” of the parents agenda. Call it the look good. I’ve experienced this all too often where my teen will tell me what they think I want to hear and too often I accepted that, not realizing that my child had gone “underground” with their thoughts and feelings. This total disconnect between their truth (feelings and thoughts) and the life they were portraying makes children feel worthless, destroys sense of self, integrity, honesty and the ability for our children to embrace their individuality.
In our culture where TV and media glamorizes the successful, the wealthy, the famous, and where winning is everything, we have lost placing value on feeling the moment, and the value of the process, the journey, and being in the game. The result is detachment, and it’s no wonder we have so many teenagers and young adults who find it difficult to be honest, or even be willing to try. We need to reward effort and build self esteem based on one’s willingness to try.
Responsive parenting is responding without judgment to what is rather than what you want it to be. Parents, we want our children to feel safe to fail, to try again and to let us be their life coach. To do that well, we must embrace their individuality, respond and guide them with their thoughts and feelings as a coach would guide a player in handling the basketball, helping them consider all the options and practicing. Families need rules where the consequences are experiences just as we do when we get a traffic ticket, hopefully to learn from the experience.
As our children transition through the teen years to adulthood, we don’t get to choose who they become or how they see themselves. We do get to help and guide them to be the best version of themselves and hopefully instill the ability for them to self-regulate and have an honest sense of self and others. Our ability to have this positive influence can be lost if we lose sight of their feelings and thoughts.