I often get asked by parents, “do you think I am a good parent?” What makes us good versus bad parents is really dependent upon a lot of things and not just our own perceptions or what other people think of us when it comes to parenting or being a good parent.
As humans, we are a byproduct of the environments in which we have been raised in. We can try and raise children in ways that are indifferent to the way we were raised or deemed acceptable by society’s standards but children rarely care about those standards. All children care about is what they are receiving from their parents, and we are not talking about just the material things, we are talking about the emotional stuff.
As parents we may have an understanding that we are great parents because we provide everything to our children for example, we are constantly running around for them, we take them to all their extracurricular activities, we buy expensive gifts for them, we always cook and clean for them, and we are nearly always there for them when they are unwell. All of these is not what good parenting is about, all of these is what we call as “responsibility.”
If as a parent we believe that we are doing a great job by meeting the basic needs of our children then that’s the perception we have, this does not necessarily mean that that’s the perception that the child will have of us. A child only sees behaviours, use of words, reactions, and use of emotions to understand their world and not whether their parents have met their basic needs or not.
Studies have shown that attachment and early intimate connections with parents have a significantly profound effect on the developing brain. And that’s what children need, not all the superficial and material things that we “think” will make us a good parent.
It goes without saying that raising children in today’s society is extremely difficult and we would be lying to ourselves if we said otherwise. But as parents we struggle with the constant demands of life and sometimes we find it hard to meet the emotional needs of a child at the same time.
Understanding the implications of our own behaviours, our emotional states, our own reactions, and most importantly our own inabilities to regulate emotions means that this will be projected onto the child. For example, children often say that when their parents use comments such as; “you are an angry person”, “when I was your age, I was never lazy”, “you are ungrateful person, I do so much for you”, “you will never be anything in life if you continue with such behaviour” it makes them feel as though it is a personal attack on their entire being as a person.
This is detrimental in the way the child will learn to shape their world into something that they understand. Most of the comments are not a reflection of the child’s inability but the parents own sense of insecurities, upbringing, and experiences.
Children watch every action, reaction and comments parents make which then become core beliefs in which the child will use to navigate the world around them. So, when children say “I am a failure”, “I am lazy”, “I am unlovable” know that it’s coming from their own personal environments. When children are exposed to such negative perceptions then the likelihood of them seeing the world through a very narrow lens becomes prominent ultimately damaging their entire being.
We have to learn to break away from that otherwise we will be raising children that are dampened by our own perceptions and our own values. We have to help children understand their capabilities and let them navigate it effectively. Our role is to help them understand this world and not impose our own expectations on them.
Children don’t need material or superficial things. They need availability. Emotional availability. If you’re a present parent yet emotionally unavailable then you’re not an available parent.