Babies aren't born with a step-by-step booklet outlining how to raise a happy, healthy child and yet, 'handle-with-care' is hopefully assumed. First-time parents depend on intuition and wisdom of those they trust to guide and troubleshoot. Each person is born with a unique set of needs. Over-indulging or depriving the child seems intuitively inappropriate to most who strive to create an emotionally healthy and safe environment.
In an effort to achieve balance, we often struggle. Parenting can be a terrifying adventure for those who have high self-expectation that includes achieving 'the perfect blend' in order to meet just the right amount of the adored child's needs. So, how can one focus this heartfelt desire when there are no firm rules? That is, how can we achieve what is unknown based on variables not yet revealed by the unique newborn? We can't.
The power we bring to parenting is embedded in what we can do, which is: provide unconditional love and appropriate boundaries as guidance. It is, of course, important to reasonably meet the dependent child's basic needs (outlined by Maslow), nourish individuality, and offer support during growth and development. In addition, and of perhaps greater value: embrace the truth that a healthy upbringing begins with a self-actualized parent.
If you were raised by a dysfunctional parent, the environment was likely toxic, and you were undoubtedly traumatized. Unless you healed that trauma and achieved self-actualization, you are understandably filled with rage. How can you know if you are sitting on a mountain of rage right now? You might have self-destructive tendencies and/or be insecure, and/or experience debilitating anxiety. These need to be resolved sooner rather than later. (Click here for guidance). It might be of value to seek out one or more mentors and/or well-educated mental health providers to help dissolve the rage. (Click here for details). This effort facilitates transformation so you can fulfill your potential. You deserve joy, whether or not you are parenting a youngster.
If your focus is preparation for healthy parenting: Rule #1: if plagued by an unresolved, traumatic background, healing your own wounded inner-toddler is the place to begin. An unresolved adult arrested at a stage of childhood trauma is not able to provide a healthy environment without extraordinary outside, therapeutic intervention along the way. Rule #2: reread Rule #1. If, however, the parenting has begun and you become aware that your child exhibits symptoms noted above indicating 'rage', the primary question at this time becomes: "How can I help dissolve my child's dysfunction and facilitate healing?" Click here for further guidance. Click here for additional information.
Providing the developing child with a healthy relationship environment sets the example of a lifetime of appropriate self-care for mind, body and spirit. Proper boundaries, setting limits, and all the other tools you have in your parenting back-pack are offered on a continuum, depending on countless variables revealed by time and experience. While there is no single book guaranteeing an outcome or clear guidelines on how to raise the perfect child, there is most definitely a formula for healthy parenting, beginning with the aforementioned 'Rule #1' followed by two straightforward across-the-board rules:
1. Never use fear, shame, or guilt to control the child or 'as if' to build a healthy conscience. Set the example of honesty, self-reflection, truth, and integrity. Trust will follow. Healthy relationships within the self and with others builds on that.
2. Always show respect to the child, yourself, and everyone in your child's orbit
Here's wishing you self-actualization and a lifetime of fulfillment, joy, and healed, healthy relationships (both within yourself and with others). ~ Dr. Iankowitz (click here to read Part 1)