Five Sense Worth of Parenting

Parenting styles vary with the wind. Parents come in all different shapes and forms. The blueprint for good parenting is generally bound by the culture, yet the specifics of good parenting seem, too often, indescribable or too judgment laden so that if you don’t follow certain guidelines you are not a good parent. The purpose of PARENTSTRATEGY has always been to help parents find their strengths and value and to find their own niche with comfort and purpose…With that in mind, I would like to propose 5 sense worth of parenting.

1. A sense of home – Home  is where parenting happens! From the moment you take your child home from the hospital, the family life begins. Home is the base; it is the common structure shared by all in the family. Creating a home, bound with feelings of security and safety is an essential building block for a healthy home.

Home sweet home! There’s no place like home! These sayings epitomize the simplicity and the importance of home. A home base is where parents parent.

2. A sense of soul – In every home a family story unfolds. What is the mood inside the family den? How do the family members perceive themselves in relationship to other families in the community? What happens behind closed doors? The private world is different from the public image. A family has many features and children develop a sense of themselves in an ever-changing cascade between their private world and their public world. A morality is created about right and wrong, good and bad, defining “me” in relation to ” others.” In many ways, a sense of soul is created within the family “den” – a soulful existence for all the family members. This soulful feeling within each person in the family is often transparent and unexplainable, yet it mobilizes the whole family with purpose and meaning. The parent’s influence over the family soul inside the family “den” is also unquestionably powerful.

Soul means many different things to many different people. Soul may have religious connotations, philosophical delineations, or new age interpretations. In gestalt psychology, the gestalt refers to ” the whole being greater (or different) from the sum its parts. Therefore the family gestalt would have a similar meaning. For this discussion, the family soul refers to something greater than or different from all the individual family members. Within the home a family story emerges and as a result a soulful place begins to lay its foundation. The family soul is more than or, at least, different from a collection of all the family members’ interactions.

Every step of the way in a child’s development a parent responds and as Thomas Moore wrote in his book, Soul Mate (1994), – “The family, the soul wants, is a felt network of relationships, an evocation of a certain kind of interconnection that grounds, roots, and nestles.” In many homes the sense of soul in the family is alive and vibrant and endures in good times as well as bad. In other families, the sense of soul is lost and in the words of Thomas Wolfe, “you can’t go home again.”

3. A sense of time – Time is all about perspective or as Einstein would say, time is a relative thing. Giving your child a sense of time is critical to their understanding of how they can master the world around them. Nowadays, children are ruled by immediacy, things cannot wait. Teaching children how to delay gratification, postpone reward, plan and organize gives children the tools to manage time. Also, when children learn there is an appropriate place and time for some things and not for others, then they become increasingly more respectful of other’s limits and boundaries. Teaching children a sense of time gives them perspective and as they mature they learn to balance their immediate needs, desires and wishes with the people around them.

During the flow of life events, teaching your children a healthy respect for time allows them an understanding of their place in the world. For parents, a sense of time means our relationship with our children lasts a lifetime from infancy to adulthood.

4. A sense of contact – Human beings are social beings. What makes us human is not our reflection in the mirror but rather our connection to our fellow man. We become human when we make contact with other human beings. Human contact is the humanizing factor that helps make us who we are. What makes us a parent, simply put, is our children! From the babies first breath or holding our adopted child for the first time, the parenting journey unfolds. Selma Fraiberg, author of “The Magic Years,” referred to this contact as the emotional dance between parent and child. The parent-child dance, albeit common, is universally unique. Every parent has a dance with his or her child. Some parents are wallflowers. Some parents dance too close. Other parents may be doing the waltz while others feel they are in the mosh pit. Regardless of the style of the dance, the parent-child relationship takes on a rhythm of its own. The dance or the sense of contact becomes the essence of the relationship.

This contact becomes the bell weather for the child in learning love from hate, and right from wrong. The child’s sense of self begins to become established in the face of the parent. This first dance becomes a prototype for all future dances the child experiences. The child’s ability to make contact with the world is first nurtured in the home. A sense of contact in a soulful home of love and warmth – safe and secure – manifests itself in the child’s character in ways only the parent and child can truly understand.

5. A sense of choice – As parents there are so many things we do not have control over…a left handed child, the second grade teacher, your child’s best friend… But, we always have a choice of how we respond to the our left handed child struggling in a right handed dominant world, and we always have a choice of how we work with our ADHD daughter’s second grade teacher, and we always have a choice of how we navigate our teenage son’s selection of friends.

There is no escaping the importance of family life and the effect it has on each individual member. A study by Henderson et. al. in 2003 indicated that life satisfaction is 72% more likely with people who satisfied with their family life.

Children, in their own peculiar and unique way, bring out the best and worst in us. As parents, we navigate their development and growth as best we can. It is extremely difficult to turn off the parenting button once the switch has been turned on. Knowing that we make many mistakes in parenting our children, we still must embrace our job with the wisdom to know it is our responsibility to love and nurture our baby’s life.

With 5 sense worth of parenting, our ordinary and simple wisdom will go a long way and its value is priceless!