When Lauren B. Quetsch and Tim Cavell were arguing over potential titles for their recently released book, Quetsch suggested “I love my kids, but….”
Both Quetsch and Cavell are professors of psychology at the University of Arkansas, specializing in child psychology.
The headline was called “too negative,” Quetsch said, and they ultimately settled on “Good Enough Parenting: A Six-Point Plan for a Stronger Relationship with Your Child.”
The book’s title and content, Cavell said, are meant to push back against the commonly used phrase “effective parenting.”
“We argue that the myth of effective parenting can sometimes be a burden on parents,” he said. “It seems really unfair because it doesn’t take into account so many factors, especially the cultural and family background.”
We argue that the myth of effective parenting can sometimes be a burden on parents.
“Good Enough Parenting” recognizes that parenting is not only difficult but surprising – and there are many times when you’ll want to say, “I love my kids, but….”
Often, science-based books that collect and synthesize data into short jokes about how to be an effective parent don’t really take into account how much you, as a parent, will go wrong.
“A good enough parent, by the nature of their efforts, will fail,” he said. “They won’t meet their child’s needs, but it’s an opportunity for a child to learn things on their own. To be a good enough parent is to give your child a gift that will help him learn.”
Acts like limiting screen time or teaching your child a second language can be great, but can also draw attention to what Quetsch and Cavell consider the most important part of parenting: learning to build relationships. relationship with your child.
“It’s a long-term, one-sided gig,” Cavell said. “It’s about managing the relationship, not managing the behavior.”
In order 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 communicate better with your children
With every other endeavor in your life, you probably have personal goals. With children, however, many parents only consider what they want their children to achieve.
In their book, Quetsch and Cavell suggest thinking about what you want to accomplish as a parent.
Then, when you ask yourself if you’re “doing it right,” you’re not comparing yourself to the books you’ve read or the other parents you see. You can check your own goals.
Don’t set a goal that doesn’t make sense as your child grows, Quetsch said.
“We can have an idea of how we want to be parents and talk about it,” she said, “but when you actually get into it, your kids are going to give you their own temperament, and you thought you had it all. understood, and maybe not.
More likely 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 think it’s important to maintain good physical health, but also emphasize emotional health.
Practicing mindfulness before and after having a child is essential to being a current parent.
We may have an idea of how we want to parent and talk about it, but when you actually get into it, your kids will give you their own temperament.
Is the way your life is organized today child friendly? What are the rules and rituals in place?
These are things you should consider even before your child is born.
“Do you have a chaotic life or a life that provides a sense of security?” Cavell asked.
Once you have a child, you’ll likely need to make some lifestyle changes, but it’s good to know what structure you’re bringing a child into.
By working to understand and love your child and not leading them away from who they want to be, you are sending a message of acceptance. When a child feels accepted, they don’t wonder where they are with you or how much you like them.
Cavell encourages parents to have a “posture of discovery” when relating to their child.
“You have some preconceptions about this kid,” he said. “We think they’re going to be one-sided, and then they come. Let’s find out who this kid is and if we can get into a rhythm with this kid.”
What exactly does day-to-day acceptance look like?
Quetsch gives the example of a couple she advised and whose child only wanted to play with clocks. The couple worried that their child would do the other activities that children their age seemed to enjoy.
Quetsch’s advice: Just play with the clock.
Do you have a chaotic life or a life that provides a sense of security?
Some children will behave worse than others. Parents who are too punitive can undermine the relationship between themselves and the child, but parents who are too lighthearted can lose their child’s respect.
Between controlling a misbehaving child and appeasing him, there is a third option: containment.
To contain means to meet a child where he is. Be selective about which fights you want to choose.
In one sentence, you can understand that your child does not want to go to school while enforcing the rule that he must go out.
Leading conceptually lies between accepting and containing.
It refers to a parent modeling the values they want their child to have, but not intervening if a child’s behavior contradicts those values.
This is especially important for parents of older children who are experiencing their own autonomy.
“It’s about building a relationship”
Incorporating these pillars into your parenting will have no short-term effect, Cavell said.
Accepting your child’s tantrum at the grocery store won’t make it stop sooner.
Being attentive may not give you the patience you need for a difficult toddler.
After all, Cavell said, “you wouldn’t want to be the victim of bad behavior no matter what relationship you’re in, and being a parent is no different from that.”
But focusing on what happens between you and your child rather than what parenting books tell you parenting should look like will help your child feel valued and independent.
“It’s not about knowing a lot about parenthood,” Cavell said. “It’s about knowing how to build a relationship.”
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