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Effective Parenting
Parenting #101

Article by Shawn Dwyer and Dr.L.Michael Hall ~

You Parent as You Were Parented!

Parenting #101 – Would like to hear something really scary? You will tend to parent as you were parented. Now scream and get it out. That’s right, and a little more screaming, and that should do it. Yes, what you received is generally speaking, what you have to give. And give it you will. This is why and how really good parenting tends to pass on through the generations and why and how really bad parenting also dominates in some families.

Parenting Awareness

This also explains why so many people wake up in their 20s and 30s saying to their own dis-belief: “I have become my mom!” “I have become my dad!”

“I swore I would never do to my kids what was done to me, but now I hear myself say things and see myself do things that I never thought I’d see or hear. What’s going on? I don’t understand why I act as I do or get so irritated!”

Not only that but things actually get worse because how you make sense of your experiences during childhood have a profound effect on how you parent your own children. We can easily explain this in NLP and Neuro-Semantics. Parenting #101

Here’s the explanation.

We are all born with a profoundly under-developed brain- one with great potentials- but also one with no content understanding of things. So it develops. And it develops in the context of our early home environment.

That’s why early experiences are so impactful. Like any “first impression,” your first impressions about human life, love, and liberty come from your experiences with your caregivers- mom and dad. In other words, how they related to you, interacted with you, nurtured you, cared for you, communicated, treated you, etc. was the first context in which you learned what you learned.

How was it for you?

 Studies in Attachment Theory in the past three decades have established some basic attachment patterns that are typical by parents.

After the categorizing of these patterns, research has traced the effect of these attachment patterns in people’s lives. As a result, we now understand that the patterns of attachment profoundly influences a person’s well-being, mental health, social intelligence, memory, resilience, learning capacity, and much more. 

What are the categories? 

Secure attachment. A bonding pattern of love and support, parents giving compassion, patience, time, etc.  Parents able to “read” the infant’s signals, respond empathetically.

Avoidant attachment. A non-bonding pattern. Parents essentially not available emotionally or mentally, preoccupied, busy, stressed-out, etc.

Ambivalent attachment. An on-and-off bonding pattern. Parents sometimes available, sometimes not.  Sometimes highly intrusive, sometimes completely dis-connected.

 Disorganized attachment. A dis-orienting non-bonding pattern. Parents themselves unstable and therefore frightening to the child.

These categories are in Daniel Siegel’s work, The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are (1999/ 2008) which he took from the original work of John Bowlby, a British psychoanalyst and psychiatrist. Later he wrote a simpler book, Parenting From the Inside-Out (2004). And at the heart of that work is his point about meaning. If you are unable to “make sense” of the experiences of your childhood and have leftover issues or unresolved issues, then there are things that can (and will) get in your way of parenting.

Translation: You have got to get yourself healthy and present in order to do a good job parenting. Otherwise all sorts of things in children (their dependence, neediness, vulnerability, exploration, incessant questioning, complaining, crying, etc.) can and will trigger you to respond in an automatic way.

“When we become parents, we bring with us issues from our own past that influence the way we parent our children. Experiences that are not fully processed may create unresolved and leftover issues that influence how we react to our children.” (2004, p. 1)

Talk about a great big motivation for Parenting #101 Training!

Parenting #101 That’s it. Due to our infant brain at birth and our childhood brain as we grow up- we make sense of things the best we can with a child’s brain from the experiences that we have. That’s why highly stressful experiences, and worse, traumatic experiences, for a child have such a profound effect. But that’s not all. There’s something even worse.  Because the child’s brain is just developing, all “memory” in the first two years is “implicit memory.”

No wonder the child will not remember it and will not remember how she encoded it. This will also be generally true for the first 5 to 7 years of life.

What the child will have is an implicit non-conscious mental map deep within of “how life is,” “how he is,” “what people are like,” etc. And because it is non-conscious, it will operate as an automatic program making that child, when he grows up, reactionary as an adult. It is in this way that the cognitive distortions are still so much alive and well deep inside the mind of the new parent and ready to be activated by the annoying things kids do.

Parenting #101, No wonder that adult who can seem so mature and grown up in so many aspects of life, can be unbelievably triggered to behave so badly at home.

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