Parenting Open PhonesOpen Phones is a regular feature on Intentional Living, and today it’s for Parents. If you’ve got questions about toddlers, teens, or twenties, or that powerful or passive child, give Dr. Randy Carlson a call.
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Five Foundations of Healthy ParentingDr. Randy Carlson
1. Provide emotional securityEmotional security is a foundational element in healthy child development. A child raised without emotional and physical security comes to believe that life is like walking on quicksand. People can’t be trusted and risk-taking is unpredictable and dangerous.
2. Value your child as a personWe all entered life with one thought: “Meet my needs!” People who were not valued as children grow up deprived of the dignity and affection they deserve. Often they respond to this deficiency in one or two ways. Some adults still squawk, kick their feet and throw tantrums to get their way and elicit the attention they crave, even though it is negative attention. Others battle a deep sense of inadequacy and pull inward, feeling unaccepted and unworthy, and find it a struggle to develop intimacy in their relationships.
3. Demonstrate healthy touchingThe skin is the largest sense organ in the body. Touch brings pleasure or pain. Touch connects people in a way nothing else does. It is an expression of sensual love, tender affection and brotherly concern.
4. Set boundaries and enforce them with consistent disciplineMy friends and I once attempted to play volleyball without clear boundary lines for the court—a frustrating experience. After the first volley both sides were arguing about whether the ball landed in or out. It’s a great way to develop childish behavior at an adult party! The point is, clearly established boundary lines give us the freedom to function without confusion and tension. Behavioral and relational boundaries give freedom and limits, protection and safety. Children routinely test the boundaries and argue about the limits, but they want and need them. When those guidelines are enforced by firm, loving and consistent discipline, the child can more easily bridge the gap from childishness to self-discipline and self-control. Loving discipline leading to self-discipline is a key to healthy self-esteem. Individuals who do not establish and enforce healthy interpersonal boundaries set themselves up for others to take advantage of them. They develop all sorts of relational problems as adults.
5. Teach you the right values and help build a belief system that leads to wise, balanced and moral livingWas right from wrong explained and modeled by your father? Distorted values lead to neuroticism, despair and failure. In his book on building self-esteem in children, James Dobson lists values that lead to emotional and physical health:
“The Bible provides the key to God’s value system for mankind, and in my judgment, it is composed of six all-important principles. They are: (1) devotion to God; (2) love for mankind; (3) respect for authority; (4) obedience to divine commandments; (5) self-discipline and self-control; (6) humbleness of spirit. These six concepts are from the hand of the Creator, Himself, and are absolutely valid and relevant for our lives.”Not surprisingly, Dobson credits his own father for the values that were instilled in him as a child and wrote this tribute on the dedication page:
This book is dedicated in deepest respect to my father, whose influence on my life has been profound. I watched him closely throughout my childhood, yet he never disappointed me. Not once did I see him compromise his inner convictions and a personal ethics. Thus, his values became my values and his life charted the path for my own. Now it is my task, in turn, to be found worthy of the two little ones who call me ‘Dad.’