As I have mentioned before, I am amazed at the things I learn from children, their kindness, and their gentile spirits. Similarly, through talking with parents about their children, I am humbled by the graciousness and honesty with which they bear their innermost vulnerabilities about parenting. I am impressed with the current generation of parents' willingness to allow others to care for their children and to ask for help with challenging situations. The more I work with parents of children ages 6 weeks to 6 years, the more I realize that this is a generation of children whose parents are involved, but not overly or under involved in their children's lives. I find them confidently open to addressing concerns about their children sooner than later, and they seem to want to get it right. Just as they work hard in their careers and managing their lives, I also find them working very diligently to connect with their children in meaningfully compassionate ways and to learn about child development and parenting strategies. They give their children time and attention at the beginning of the day to help their child prepare for the long day apart while the parent is at work - a daunting, developmental task that very young children, without the assistance of caring, empathic, attuned caregivers, are challenged to master. And, parents spend time with them at the end of the day to help them transition back into their parents' or caregivers' lives.
A parent's vulnerability to admit to his or her child, in the heat of the moment, that the parent has made a mistake or, who, with honesty and empathy acknowledges that he or she was wrong to raise his or her voice or yell is paramount to helping children avoid shame and guilt. By the parent admitting that he or she made a mistake in that moment allows the child to see empathy, honesty, and vulnerability on the part of the parent. A repair to the relationship must follow, and a genuine working through of apologetic, remorseful, angry, frustrated, and sad feelings on the part of the parent and child is essential to helping children learn to express feelings, manage them, and then let them go. This reparation of relationships, genuine practice and modeling of how to be in a relationship, with young children helps them learn how to have healthy relationships, to choose friends who are also in an emotional growth phase, to use language as a vehicle for communication of complex processes, and to avoid becoming victims to others who cannot feel or express feelings or who do not have the necessary tools to work through difficulties in relationships. This working through of feelings helps children establish a template for future relationships. While working through feelings requires a sense of vulnerability which is not always a comfortable place, it takes courage to be close to others, and it provides for opportunities for deep, rich, empathic relationships. This builds confidence and a sense of being lovable.
Post by Sarah Wilhelms