Conscious and positive parenting
NOVEMBER IS observed here as National Parent Month. This year’s special activities were launched under the theme ‘Positive Parenting: Impacting Generations’ by the National Parenting Support Commission.
According to the commission, this theme is guided by three main pillars: a) Plan for parenthood; 2) Be willing to learn; and 3) Break the cycle.
As a country, we are plagued with a number of social, health and educational problems, including high rates of illiteracy and school dropouts, mental illness, violent crimes and abuse (physical, emotional and sexual).
In an effort to create a Jamaica which will be “the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business”, Jamaica adopted ‘Vision 2030’, which is the country’s first long-term strategic development plan and covers the 21-year period 2009-2030, based on the United Nation’s 2030 agenda for Sustainable Growth and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This article is not the forum to discuss these SDGs, but with nine more years left to accomplish this vision, just how close are we?
We watch, read and listen to the daily news and shudder with horror at the ghastly details. As a psychologist, what is driven home to me more and more is that as a population and a world, many of us are suffering from complex trauma. Complex trauma is described by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network as “both children’s exposure to multiple traumatic events – often of an invasive, interpersonal nature – and the wide-ranging, long-term effects of this exposure”. Many of our children live in homes where they experience consistent and intense abuse and neglect, or in communities that are plagued with crime and violence. In these situations, daily reality becomes a norm and they eventually become desensitised to these experiences. This desensitisation to these experiences occurs because the brain has to find a way to preserve itself. It is no wonder that so many of our children, and even us as adults, do not bat an eye any more when we receive gruesome pictures of death and gore in our social media inboxes. We have become numb! How did we get this way? What can be done? I firmly believe that all social ills can still be fixed right at home – through positive and conscious parenting.
Conscious parenting is a term coined by psychologists which very simply speaks to a style of parenting that focuses on the parent – their growth and development which occurs because of experiences encountered with their child. The conscious parent is mindful and purposeful in their interactions with their children and are aware that every word and action has long-lasting effects. As parents, I think we sometimes underestimate or may not even be fully aware of the legacy we are leaving behind ‘in and through’ our children. Have any of us stopped to think about how our own experiences as children with our parents or caregivers has moulded and determined the parents we are today? I often find myself telling my own daughter, ‘When I was a child, my father would say this, or my mother would do that’. Our circumstances and encounters as young children determine who we become as adults and is engrained in our very being.
The conscious parent is positive in the words they use, knowing that sarcasm and hurtful language etches into the very soul of their child. They instead think first and speak after, practising self-control and trying very hard to regulate their emotions, knowing that for every harsh word or action, they are teaching their child the very behaviours they do not want to see exhibited. The conscious parent accepts that children are just that – children, and do not engage in unnecessary arguments and fights, but instead see and use every situation as a teaching opportunity. As parents who are conscious and mindful, we remain aware and live in the moment with our children. We are present for and with them – not just physically, but emotionally and psychologically. We listen – truly listen to the words they say and those they don’t. We appreciate the uniqueness of these little ones and see them as extensions of ourselves, but separate from us.
As we come to the end of another Parent Month, let us strive to be positive and conscious parents. We must plan for parenthood and be purposeful in the choices we make for and with our children, because these choices have long-lasting implications for the very adults they will become, i.e., impacting the next generation.
Kellie-Anne Brown Campbell is a licensed associate school psychologist and principal, McCam Child Care and Development Centre. Email feedback to email@example.com