I treat many highly sophisticated parents in my private practice. Most have read more books than I and know all the right things to say. They care and want to be good parents. The same can likely be said for any parent reading this article. Yet, parents and children get caught in daily power struggles, conflicts, and emotionally charged interactions, often without resolutions.
No one had perfect parents. Perfection does not exist. I promise you, under stress each one of us will revert back to repeating the reactions and behaviors we got from our parents. I define stress as the times when you make a demand on your child that she does not want to do, or when you set a limit and she doesn't want to stop or wants more. If your parents screamed at you, you are likely to do the same. If your Mom became overwhelmed, collapsed into tears, and begged you to comply, you have a high likelihood of doing the same thing. That is the primary reason that, as a parent, you need to self-explore, self-examine, and become self-aware. This takes courage. It's a painful process. Parents need to know their own strengths and vulnerabilities and how they affect their child. What kind of words and behaviors make me angry, scared, sad, or feel helpless? No one can push their buttons as intensely as their own child. Not even a spouse. I wrote The Self-Aware Parent as a tool extending the hand of an experienced, empathic, non-judgmental clinician who will walk alongside you as you embark on the brave, difficult look within.
It's not exactly enough to simply know yourself, but that is the crucial first step. The following are Dr. Fran's Top Ten Tips for applying the knowledge and making change.
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