What makes someone a good parent

How parental affection helps shape our future

Is everything coincidence?

Heike Berse / pixelio.dechildren

Parents need to be a safe haven for children to develop good bonds with them. In addition, the relationship with the parents is decisive for how children behave later - for example in love relationships.

21.01.2016cm article: Download PDFPrintShareFeedback

Author: Charlotte Mattes

Category: News, Education, Children

Source: Charlotte Mattes

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Evangelical center for counseling in HöchstJudith Rosner, head of family, education and youth counseling at the Evangelical Center for Counseling in Höchst.

Is a happy and fulfilling life a coincidence or a fate? In any case, parents can do a lot to help children tackle challenges confidently as adults and behave in a coherent manner in relationships. EKHN editor Charlotte Mattes spoke to Judith Rosner, the head of family, education and youth counseling at the Evangelical Center for Counseling in Höchst, about the groundbreaking importance of early childhood development.

Ms. Rosner, what has the greatest impact on babies and toddlers?

Judith Rosner: The first years of life are the most formative. Everyone involved in this period naturally has the greatest influence on the child's personal development. It makes a difference where I grow up - whether in a poor or rich country - whether in war or peace. Are there siblings or not? Do my parents have time for me? What social network does my family have? Another factor is whether the mother has a healthy diet, smokes or drinks alcohol during pregnancy. It is also important whether the mother lives in a good partnership or is exposed to violent conditions.

Do you have specific examples of how a caregiver's situation can affect the child?

Rosner: For example, if a mother is severely depressed: The child looks into an empty face, although it urgently needs an affect mirroring, i.e. a mirroring of its feelings, for its development. Without this reflection, the child cannot develop well and healthily. If a child is mistreated or neglected in this early phase of life or if his needs are not met, this is crucial for development.

The effects are individual. But what can neglect or improper handling of emotions lead to?

Rosner: As adults, for example, those affected are more unstable or less stress-resistant. They do not live their relationships in the way that is good for me and others. What I did not get, I may look for substitute gratifications, which can then lead to addictive behavior. It can also be that I am looking for a difficult, symbiotic closeness in a partnership that overwhelms the other. In the long run, this is unbearable for the partnership because I am looking for something that I have received too little, wrongly or not at all. Self-harming behavior can occur in youth. These are behavioral disorders or abnormalities in which we often find out about problematic situations from childhood in psychological counseling.
It is important at this point: Not every child who experiences bad experiences is severely traumatized, later shows behavioral problems or develops unfavorably. The central question here is: Which caregivers were by my side and in what way?

Is it even more difficult for me to assess other people?

Rosner: Yes, it is then more difficult for a person to assess how the interlocutor thinks, feels and evaluates the situation. Even what is happening inside me cannot be properly classified and therefore cannot develop so well. It is necessary for someone to perceive and endure our feelings, so that we can understand our inner world and have shown how to deal with feelings.

Do you have any examples from therapy in which people behave differently because of their childhood than they would like?

Rosner: A mother said that when she was a child she was locked in the broom closet if she was not good. With every reaction of defiance or anger there was punishment instead of accompaniment, enduring, comforting. And later, as a mother, she kept yelling at her child: “What are you screaming, there is no reason for it, you are making me aggressive”. In the course of the counseling she was able to relate this to her own childhood - but that was a long process.

What role do parents' performance requirements play?

Rosner: When a child is recognized by their parents primarily for their performance, it is influenced by it. I will always stress myself performing because I know that I am loved for it. If relationship is of minor importance, then of course it will influence me too. In this respect, it is always good to also check: How high is my performance requirement for my child? And: isn't it more important to rely on the relationship?

How is a stable, good bond created?

Rosner: All children want to be loved by their parents. First of all, that is the most important thing. They want to be accepted as they are. With all their peculiarities and peculiarities that they bring with them. If that went well, I can look to a good and detached relationship in adulthood. If I have always had a lack of experience with parents, then it is particularly painful. Then it's more of a burden and not a resource that I can fall back on.

What do you think of making babies cry? There are many different opinions about it.

Rosner: Very clearly: this is very, very bad. You cannot spoil your child in the first year. An infant needs immediate and prompt care. Otherwise he will feel it as pain. Chaos and fear arise. The baby has no other option than to express with screams that he is unwell or that he needs something.

How can parents raise their children to have strong personalities?

Rosner: Loving and sensitive parents who provide a framework, i.e. set limits. Parents who do not create a climate of fear. For example, if the grades are bad, ask, “Where do you need support?” And comfort the child. It is also important that parents are good role models. For example, if you want a certain colloquial tone, you have to live it yourself. Rituals are also important because they provide support. The evening ritual is something very important. This requires a reliable structure, for example: dinner together, brushing your teeth, or mom always singing a song or looking at a book with me.

In the preliminary talk you spoke of parents as a “safe haven”. What do you mean by that?

Rosner: That means: if a child dares to venture a little too far, it has to go back to the safe haven. The child looks to see whether the parent is still there and catches them and whether they are told what is happening out there. When, as a child, I find out that mom or dad says: “You can keep on trying and I'll take care of you, I'm with you”, then I can explore and explore my surroundings well. Of course, children want their parents to see what they are doing. Also, calmly say that you are happy about his discoveries, then your child will feel seen, accepted, valued and can safely go out into the world.

Editor's note: When parents are mentioned in this interview, they are referring to the relevant caregivers, who can also be adoptive or foster parents.

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