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Parenting Saying No without Hate

Sumant Majmudar MS Columbia University, New York, USA

A young man, 24, recalled in therapy telling his mother, If you had slapped me when I, when just 17, took to smoking and drinking for the first time, I would have been different and without problems. Parenting - one of the most difficult things, no training Now, however, more acceptance and readiness to seek information, help and talk Parents groups informal self-help groups, more formal counseling Many difficulties, sacrifices, and yet want to be parents Parent-child relationship is real, no place for sentimentality, pep-talk, children hate it Two major problems as below

Difficulties in setting limits

Limits to behavior, find difficult to put limits Feel let down but cannot face and say no, have others to do it, become artificial, compromise parental authority-role Insult, scold, beat, devalue, run down, reject when the child returns, loose self-control Ignore, putting child on high pedestal, suffer belittling by children, afraid child may worsen and aggravate, pamper, get involved with parents getting divided, not knowing what to do, getting lost, numb, inactive

Some ideas on Holding the child

Some long term practices, hold yourself, think, feel. Building positive healthy self-esteem, confidence, attachment relationships - emotional bonding Providing: - Safe haven (security of basic needs being met in distress) - Secure base (fostering confidence to explore internal and external world, creates stable world Gradual deadaptation, preoccupation giving way to seeing child becoming less and less dependent Mentalizing, regulating emotional upheavals, necessary for self- awareness and healthy relationship

Handling the child

Confrontation: containing (let go, tolerate without loss of self-control) with warmth, understanding, with some distance (like what happens when you play with child and let him play), without hate Seeing immaturity, dealt by passage of time Relative irresponsibility Personal point of view, letting the child his/her point of view Saying no without rancor, retaliation, vindictiveness, but with strength accruing from ones identity, growth Most frequent reason: parents wanting or not wanting child to be like her/him. Fear repetition, wish to avoid it out of love for the child

A girl,16 yrs., a very private person, with incessant crying, blankness, confusion Caught in being different than her loving mothers anxiety in not wanting her daughter to be quick tempered, angry person like her A hardworking, rational, panicky,17 yrs., boy: insomniac, worrying, unforgivable bad thoughts about sister, mother. Caught in to give up or not telling everything to mother

Difficulties yes But one is constantly becoming, handling children and adolescents Overcoming fears with insight in oneself, talking over with empathic friends or other significant family persons Counseling, therapy

Concluding with Gibran

Khalil Gibran on Children: They come thru you, but not from you. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth The archer sees the mark upon the path of infinite and bends you with His might For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so also He loves the bow that is stable