Parent Child Relationship

I believe that the parent child relationship is one of the most important relationships in our lives. Parenting is a difficult job, particularly in our present culture.

In bygone eras, extended families lived close together and family mobility was low. Culture didn’t change much, and most of us lived in homogeneous communities consisting of other families whose values and mores were the same as ours. Parenting approaches within most families in any given community were very similar to each other. In this environment, parents could very easily and most often successfully, parent their children the very same way as they themselves were parented. When an adult had a parenting question, they could turn to mothers, fathers, older siblings and even neighbors for advice.

Much has changed since these days of ‘tribes and villages’. Over the past fifty years or so we have witnessed incredible changes in our society, in terms of family. Most of us live now in very diverse communities, and the average American family moves every two and a half years. There are many different family structures… we have single parenting, same sex parenting, joint parenting by divorced parents, step parenting, etc.

It often seems that our children are a very different species than we were as children. Parents today are often confused and frequently struggle with what to do and how to do it.

This struggle has given rise to an explosion of information with regard to the parent child relationship. There are many family and parenting magazines on the newsstands with advice on everything from fixing nutritious meals and childhood illnesses to parent child communication and different parenting styles. There are parenting websites, parenting blogs, and parenting chat rooms not to mention hundreds of books on parenting.

Is it any wonder parents are confused? Everywhere we turn we are being given various messages about positive parenting techniques or good parenting skills and many times one piece of advice contradicts another and leaves parent feeling frustrated.

One of the primary elements of change that has occurred in our culture over the past 50 years is the movement from living in a ‘vertical’ system to living in a more ‘horizontal’ system. When many of us were children, we lived in a culture in which someone (dad, boss, etc) was presumed to be the superior and had control.

We did what we were told because we knew (believed) we had no rights and were the ‘inferiors’, as children. Then we had the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, etc and suddenly all people, who had had few rights and no control over their lives were standing up and proclaiming the right to be treated with dignity and respect. This is reflected in our children today. They are living in a more horizontal culture in which all people deserve to be treated equally. The parent child relationship has changed.

This is why many of the old ways of raising children are simply ineffective today. There is no question that children need teaching and training, but they are equal in value to other human beings, and deserve to be treated respectfully. Our parenting approach needs to be different.

Positive Discipline is a not a ‘how to’ parenting program…it is a ‘how we’ philosophy. Good parenting skills are built upon the underlying principles of treating children with respect and dignity and managing their behavior by being both kind AND firm. We believe that children do better when the parent child relationships in their lives are encouraging and help them feel a sense of belonging and significance. It is through these relationships that children are able to develop the qualities and build the life skills that will empower them to be successful in this diverse and complicated society.