Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.

What Makes Good Parenting?

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Feb 12, 2014 9:03 PM

What makes a good parent is much like what makes a good relationship. Caring, empathy, love, affection, unselfishness, thoughtfulness, sharing/bonding, teaching and learning, enjoying/fun, and respect. Then, there's the generational difference which calls for setting a good example, providing a stable environment and opportunities to grow, and disciplining- not in the sense of punishing but in the sense of sanctioning what is permissible and what is not and providing sensible consequences from which to learn and develop (something I've written about extensively). It's important not to enable bad behavior, not to be overly permissive, spoiling or so strict that the child doesn't learn to think and take responsibility by herself. Supervision is as crucial in the teens as in preschool but it's less direct.

Parenting is hard and no one does it perfectly. Making mistakes and repairing them constitutes a huge aspect of parenting. The best parenting comes from warm, loving parents who are truly together in spirit and their love for each other filters down through their family.The most difficult situations are when the parents don't get along, especially in rough divorces. The unhappiness between the parents plays out in negative, even abusive or overpermissive (which can be a form of abuse) dynamics with the children.

Sometimes, bad parenting is subtle. Overfeeding or restriction of food, allowing sexual promiscuity or turning a blind eye to it, modeling use of drugs or even just smoking (legal but unhealthy), overspending or extreme stinginess, irresponsible personal relationships, and even some ever-so-slightly abusive behaviors on the part of parents result in a continuum from discomfort to disaster for children. Even when those patterns exist, though, honesty, correction, and perspective help. There are fights, for example, which result in learning all around and others which result in alienation and anger for long periods. Open-mindedness is key.

Parenting is a learning experience and by the time the child grows up, the parent usually understands it.

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