A conscious relationship with your child is the capital on which his or her adult life will be built. Your child will get his or her first models for love, self-esteem, and interpersonal relationships directly from you, the parent. The more conscious you are as a parent the easier it will be for you to avoid hurting your child the way you might have been hurt in your own childhood.
Here are the 9 questions which every parent should ask him or herself:
1. Do I have a good relationship with my parents?
Unless, as an adult, you create a proper and adequate relationship with your parents then you’ll be passing on a defective relationship model to your children, who will then use it in their relationship with you when they are your age. Remember, the type of child you are with your parents is an example for your relationship with your children.
2. Am I sending consistent signals to my child?
A child doesn’t understand a lack of consistency in a parent and has to unconsciously model it. The child will resolve all types of inconsistencies between parents, or inconsistencies within each individual parent, by combining two opposing concepts into one. Take, for example, a mother who yells at her children but describes it as love. She’s raising children, as adults, will need to get into an argument with their partners in order to feel loved.
3. Can I see the world through the eyes of my child?
From your point of view a spider is a tiny, harmless being. To your child it’s a frightening monstrosity. Many parents don’t pay attention to things like this because they view everything through their own perspective—an adult perspective. Take into account the difference in proportions and ask yourself, “How does my kid see this?”.
4. Am I giving my child specific examples?
Remember to give your child specific examples that he or she can identify with. Tell him a story about a young boy who was studying hard at his age so that later he could buy everything he wanted. Or, tell your teenage girl that when you were eighteen you were able to get your first paycheck at eighteen because of the hard work you put in beforehand. You’ll communicate much more easily and precisely by using concrete examples.
5. Am I speaking the right language?
Remember to use language (words, sentences of appropriate length) which is understandable and appropriate for the age of the person you’re speaking with. Stories about animated superheros may be appropriate for a four year old but not necessarily so for a fourteen year old. Match your form to the age and cognitive abilities of your child.
6. Am I projecting my unfulfilled ambitions onto my child?
The expectation that your child will achieve your goals carries with it a great deal of negative consequences. It’s one way to kill his or her individuality and creativity. It leads to future disappointment when your adult child will reach the conclusion that he or she wasted so many years just understanding what’s going on and then building the courage (if that’s even possible) to change.
7. Am I giving my child the ability to express his or her personality?
Give your child the space for self-discovery and allow him or her to join collective personalities (subcultures) so that he or she can learn that it’s worthwhile to discover yourself. Teach your child that he or she is a unique self. Ask your children what they think about a given subject instead of giving them ready-made answers. Give them the possibility of expression and self-creation.
8. Am I expecting as much as I should be from my child?
Our expectations of our children can be just as easily be too high as they can be too low. By expecting too little from your child you are interfering with his or her natural development and teaching him or her that it’s OK to remain in a state of perpetual immaturity. This is where regressive behavior in adults originates. The other side of the coin is a situation in which a parent expects his or her child to behave like an adult.
9. Is my focus on my child balanced?
The next two extremes are ignoring your child or giving your child too much attention. The first case typically builds a depressive ego, an exceptionally negative one, while the second—ego of success, an exceptionally positive one. The first feels neglected and unwanted while the second believes it’s the center of the universe. Avoiding this mechanism during maturation means paying conscious attention to your child, which gives him or her the gift of presence and consciousness, without going blind to other elements of reality.
All parents want to raise their children as well as possible. Everyone wants to raise a human being who is good, intelligent, independent and effective. We are unconcsious of the majority of mistakes we make in our relationships with our children. School never got us ready for the role of parent and so we unconsciously draw upon the models from our personal history, our culture, and most importantly—our own home. Building a conscious relationship with your children, and improving yourself as a parent, is the investment capital which will determine your child’s future.