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Parental Guidance

Evolving into parenthood

One is not born a mother or father, but rather becomes one

Through our work, we often hear parents expressing their despair that; "there’s no book to teach you how to be a parent". No, parenting cannot be learnt from books. We learn through experience with our children.

Being a parent is not always an easy task and every parent has their moments of self-doubt. How can individuals’ needs be met fairly within the family dynamic? How can we give our children the skills they need to flourish? How can we provide clear and consistent discipline? How can we manage our children’s’ moods along with our own responses? There are so many questions that parents have to face and they are often left not knowing which way to turn....

What is parental guidance?

Parental guidance is offered independently or alongside child psychotherapy. It involves giving help and support to parents regarding issues such as:

  • Difficulties encountered by the child whether they be emotional, social, physical, behavioural or educational
  • Disciplinary difficulties such as problems of parental authority, difficulties encountered by a single parent
  • Ongoing family crisis such as separation, divorce, disclosure of a family secret, family restructuring
  • Events external to the family such as abuse of a child
  • Events internal to the family such as bereavement, mental illness, adoption, academic failings, sibling rivalry, disability, high intelligence

What is the purpose of parental guidance?

Parental guidance helps to:

  • Provide better support to the child and their difficulties and enable them to flourish
  • Evolve in our role as parent
  • Evolve in our educational role

What does interactive parental guidance involve?

A collaboration

First and foremost, interactive parental guidance is a process of collaboration: parents are considered to be co-therapists in working towards resolving their child’s difficulties.

A space for contemplation

The psychologist provides the parents with a space in which to think about parenthood and the specificities of their relationship with their child. It is about better understanding their child’s and their own functioning, on a psychological level, in order to improve the parent-child relationship.

How to BE vs how to DO

A psychologist can give educational advice - this is like handing out a toolbox. However, parental guidance is not simply about acquiring parenting skills. This brings us to fundamental and age-old question raised by Aristotle: "Can one gain skills or modify a behaviour without modifying oneself"?

Having a tool does not mean that we know when and how to use it. Furthermore, a parent who takes on an educational approach considered to be "positive", but who does not do it with conviction, in a way adapted to their own personality, will end up exhausted and behaving in a paradoxical and ambivalent manner.

The "practice" of parenting, meaning the application of adequate parental behaviour, cannot evolve without parenting experience. In other words, parenting should be lived differently in order to be done differently.

Parental guidance as such, does not only encourage evolution in the child-parent relationship by the gaining of new skills, but by simultaneous personal development.