Maxine Harley on National Parents Week, October 20-26

THIS week of awareness is organised by the Family and Parenting Institute.

There are many parenting guides, magazines and books around – and there are now a few ‘experts’ in the field too.

There seem to be two main ‘camps’ or approaches to bringing up children.

We have the ‘show them who’s boss’ approach to parenting – with firm boundaries, time-out rejections, conditions of acceptance, and the naughty step.

This treats the child as if they were a wilful adult inside a small person’s body who just needs to be coerced and conditioned into being a good girl or boy – whatever that means for the parents (and they may not even agree about this themselves).

The opposite and ‘softer’ approach attentively follows the child’s needs.

It includes sleeping with the small child, wearing child-slings to enhance bonding and attachment, and to actively avoid leaving the child alone or with anyone else.

Clearly there needs to be a blending of the two approaches so that parents and children can all benefit from a calm, loving, attentive, emotionally healthy and mutually rewarding relationship – in which a child can flourish.

Parenting help still tends to focus upon ways of parenting, rather than upon the deeper unmet emotional and psychological needs of the parents.

My own focus on better parenting is that it often begins with ‘re-parenting the parent’.

If a mum or dad hasn’t had a good childhood themselves there is high likelihood that they will, unintentionally, pass on the results of their own emotional wounds and traumas to their children.

This may show itself in anxiety, depression,anger; weak self-esteem; irrational thinking; difficulty in relating and communicating assertively; disordered self/body image; eating disorders; or craving attention - at the expense of other people’s needs and feelings.

To help combat this I’ll be setting up regular talks and workshops aimed at pregnant women in the Chichester area. The sooner parents become free of their own past and ‘issues’ they’ll be a better parent!

This is why I believe so passionately in ‘Care & Repair From The Inside Out’ ©

Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)

Maxine Harley has a masters degree in psychotherapy, has written two books, and created four new approaches to psychological, emotional and physical well-being. She lives happily in Chichester with her daughter and grandson.