Am I a good parent?
As a child and adolescent psychotherapist in Washington DC, and a parent myself, this question is often floating around my office and my mind. What does it even mean to be a ‘good parent’? On my own parenting journey, I have thought about this a lot.
When it comes to building and maintaining a secure attachment with our children, let’s take it back to birth. John Bowlby states that “the central theme of attachment theory is that primary caregivers who are available and responsive to an infant’s needs allow the child to develop a sense of security. The infant knows that the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to then explore the world.” In simpler terms- when we are consistently present for our children, we send them a message that it is safe to explore the world and we’re here to welcome them with open arms. Our attachments to our caregivers begin to develop as young as birth, and continue throughout our lives.
As a trained Circle of Security Parenting™ (COSP™) Facilitator, an early childhood attachment program, I have worked with many parents wanting to understand and transform their relationships with their children. There are 3 concepts that I want parents to take away from our work together:
- Being With– “The need every child has for caregivers (parents, teachers, etc.) to recognize and honor feelings by staying with core feelings rather than denying their importance.” What this looks like is- your child comes home from school feeling overwhelmed with all the homework they have and begins to cry. You sit down next to them and you may say “you have a lot going on; it feels overwhelming to think about all this work you have to do.” Depending on your child and what soothes them, you may say nothing and just sit quietly beside them or give them a warm hug.
- Good Enough– Let’s face it- parenting is hard work. If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you want to make sure you’re giving your child all that they need to be happy and successful. What if I told you that “good enough” is enough?! Research shows that ‘Being With’ your child even 30% of the time is “good enough.”
- Bigger, Stronger, Wiser, & Kind– This is one of my all time favorite sayings from COSP™. When we are able to be all of these things, we show our children that we can handle and hold all of their feelings and behaviors, no matter how big. If we are just bigger, stronger, and wiser without being kind, we may come across as mean. If we are just being kind, without being bigger, stronger, and wiser, than we may seem weak.
Remember, being a parent is hard enough, and you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. Here at The Sibley Group, we have many child and teen therapists who can work with you to explore your relationships with your children and help you foster secure attachments.