Parenting and Adult Development Topics
Development is a life-long process. Can you point to a time when you will cease to grow and evolve? When you will be fully complete? One of the most remarkable and truly unique features of humans is that, while we reach maturity, we do not stop developing. It’s not just that we continue to learn things, we continue to evolve. We are always masterpieces in progress.
Parenthood is one aspect of this. It transforms people, bringing the start of a new way of life, huge new roles, new demands, as well as a surprising new reservoir of emotion and love. Parents and their children affect one another in a complex process of co-adaptation, mutually influencing one another.
This section of Insights For Parents explores adult development, particularly as it relates to parents. It encourages you to embrace your own voyage on life’s path and not just your child’s. It also discusses various aspects of what we now call, “parenting.”
A Positive Voice Can Counter-Act Our Negativity Bias
You’ve probably heard we humans have a “negativity bias.” We easily notice and take in negative or threatening things and information, just as we scan the environment for possible dangers. This bias serves survival well, but it isn’t very helpful in other ways. Not only does it lead us to see dangers, it also inclines us to hear and take in negative comments and criticisms about ourselves much more readily than positive or . . .
Adult Attachment Style Questionnaire
Instructions: When completing this questionnaire, please focus on one significant adult relationship. It does not necessarily need to be a romantic relationship, but must be the individual with whom you feel the most connection. Who is your primary “go to” person if you’re sick, in trouble, want to celebrate, call with news, etc.? When responding, consider how strongly you identify with each statement. Using the scale below, respond in the space provided.This . . .
Attachment Styles of Adults Are Similar To Those Of Children
In 1987 psychologists Cindy Hazen and Philip Shaver made the first attempt to identify three patterns of attachment in adult romantic relationships, projecting from the patterns described by Ainsworth for infants. They used questionnaires to identify relationship security and the ways individuals rely on their partner as a a kind of secure base, while at the same time maintaining confidence and independence as individuals . . .
It is absolutely impossible to be a perfect parent. It’s even impossible to know what a perfect parent would be.
Research shows that children thrive with parents’ love, nurturance, consistency and limits. There is also abundant evidence that having knowledge about children’s development enables parents to have appropriate expectations, greater competence and more confidence. This is especially true today in our modern technological world, in which parents and children have many more options than in the past and require many new kinds of skills. Even with great knowledge and understanding, we will be less than perfect, yet our children can still thrive and flourish.
We humans are remarkably flexible, adaptable and resilient. We live in many different kinds of climates on the planet. We have created many different cultures that draw out and emphasize different aspects of our qualities and capacities. We are strong, clever and responsive in the face of challenges. We are keenly tuned into one another and have collaborated to invent and discover an astounding and ever expanding number of things. We are empathetic. We are determined.
♥ Children are endowed with this same astonishing flexibility and resilience. When we build a relationship with our children that is grounded in mutual respect and in love that doesn’t come with qualifications or contingencies, and when we guide our children with the kind of thoughtful attention suggested in the Guiding Principles, they survive our mistakes and imperfections. The good we offer as thoughtful parents is greater than the unskillful that happens.
Moving through life involves shifting through different roles, taking on new ones and stepping out of old ones.
You are someone’s child, you may be a sibling, you may be an athlete, a musician, an artist, a tinkerer, someone who enjoys social media, someone who meditates. You were once a student, but you may no longer have this role. You very likely have the role of someone with a career. Each role brings with it a set of activities, goals, expectations, skills and other components. Who we are is very much a function of the roles that we have and how we enact them. One of the ways we evaluate ourselves is considering how well we fulfill our various roles. Most people have a higher sense of self esteem in some roles than in others.
Taking on any new role, or losing a familiar one, brings a personal crisis. Although it may be exciting and very welcome, role changes require us to reconstitute ourselves. Each role shift marks a point and opportunity of personal development. Our roles give meaning to our lives, and for the most part, our days involve moving through the activities and purposes of our many roles. Each role change, whether adding a role or dropping one, involves an adaptation.
The role shift represented by becoming a parent is of course huge. Clearly it involves a change from being an independent adult, to becoming an adult with full-time responsibility for another very small person. For many people, it involves a shift from being a couple to being a couple with a baby, to eventually being a family. Becoming a first time parent includes both dropping a former role (being a couple or being an independent adult) as well as assuming an enormous new one.
The transition brings with it some changes that are not always obvious or easy. New parents who are familiar with infants and young children have learned and absorbed information about how infants behave and how to care for them. Regardless of previous experience, all parents grow into their new role with practice as they develop their skills and as they get to know both their infant and themselves.
New Ways of Evaluating Oneself
Becoming a parent, particularly becoming a mother, involves more than building new skills. It includes developing new ways for evaluating oneself as a mother, rather than as a working person, and requires different ways of structuring the environment and using time. Prior to parenthood, measures of self worth often center on effectiveness in the workforce. In these, there is high value in efficiency, multitasking, quick learning, eliminating unnecessary or redundant tasks, sticking with a timeline, and so on. All skills that are the antithesis of what is needed in caring for an infant. The first months of motherhood are a slow waltz. They require energy conservation, flexibility and learning to recognize and understand your infant. It inevitably means slowing down to an infant’s tempo for nursing, sleeping and being out in the world. It also means getting to know who you are now.
♥ Applying old forms of evaluation to the new role of parent can lead to a diminished sense of worth or a sense of being out of control. These familiar forms of self-evaluation aren’t relevant.
The transition to new parenthood, particularly new motherhood, extends from biological changes due to hormonal shifts, to building a new sense of identity that includes new ways of valuing oneself. It takes time.