Healthy Parenting: An Art or Science? (Part 3 of 3)

Healthy Parenting: An Art or Science? (Part 3 of 3)

written by: Dr. Nancy Iankowitz
by: Dr. Nancy Iankowitz
20151221 072420 20151221 072420

The goal: healthy parenting of our children. Achievement of this begins with one crucial healing step: parents need to avoid that which distracts from positive vibration and self-actualization. A healthy child-rearing environment is created when a parent recognizes (for him / her-self and the child) that there is no place for shame or guilt for erroneous past choices. This isn't to say we don't learn from mistakes. On the contrary, it is lessons from and resolution to correct going forward which need to flow in the aftermath of our errors. How can we be sure to follow this healthy path? It helps to self-reflect gently and honestly, without fear.

Most mental health professionals agree that fear, shame, and guilt distract from self-reflection and growth. Both shame and guilt tend to feed fear of honest self-reflection, thus preventing one from owning a history dotted with steps and paths taken (as well as avoided) which might not have served that person well. Growth is achieved once lessons (rather than blame, guilt, fear and/or shame) are paired with prior missteps. It is helpful to strive to achieve a delicate balance among the following: living our truth, accepting our gifts and limitations, embracing lack of perfection, and investing honest energy into fulfillment of our personal and professional potential. In short: be who we are born to be, do our best and avoid self-destructive inclinations. Not so easy, but very possible – and the path to joy, centered peace and balance of mind, body and spirit.

A non-threatening example is provided by nature. In a pond, eggs are laid by both frogs and fish - often within close proximity. What if they became intermingled by chance? What if a fish raised a few eggs of the neighboring frog along with its own, or a frog of the neighboring fish along with its own?

Hans Christian Andersen touched on this very issue in his famous story: The Ugly Duckling. If you have a child struggling with 'fitting in' it is worth the read. Regarding the example of our pond, people learn early on that fish swim and frogs can both swim and hop. Intuitively, most expect the fish would feel no shame or guilt for not hopping, even if raised with a tadpole who then climbed out of the water. But let's say, for the sake of argument, the fish tried to hop, landed on dry ground, and felt suffocation until the 'sibling' (now a frog) knocked it back into the water. What would 'lesson learned' look like? The fish would hopefully have learned from experience - recalling the error, to avoid jumping when near the bank.

Human siblings are often like tadpoles and fish. They might appear similar to the casual observer until, just as the tadpole sprouts legs, individuality is expressed. The legs represent the next level or, stage of development.

What of the brother - the fish? Did it fail because it has no legs? No. Is the frog wrong to climb the bank, leaving the pond to seek dry air to breathe? No. Is it the place of the parent (who is a fish) to scold the frog? Or the parent who is a frog to reprimand the fish? No. Whether you are a frog or a fish, you may be raising tadpoles and/or fish. The role of 'parent' is to help each offspring achieve his/her highest potential and to empower that offspring to craft personal life tools in the event that inadequate tools were provided. How sad for a frog to remain submerged past the point when it needs dry air, just to impress a parent who is a fish - or a fish to suffocate on dry land to prove itself successful to a parent who is a frog.

Life is filled with stories of disappointment, abandonment, frustration, grief, identity crisis and then finally, if lucky, resolution and healing. The strongest come through tremendous challenges, heal well, and then go on to inspire others. I never met or heard of a truly motivational speaker who didn't have personal experience with pulling him or herself up by his/her own bootstraps. Finding your way out of a toxic pit of negativity to go on to inspire others is a blessing and a gift.

If your parents didn't find their way out of their traumatic background, or otherwise have no coping tools to break dysfunctional patterns, the opportunity to do so rests with you. If you choose to fulfill your own personal, professional and spiritual potential, with or without a need to raise children, healing through perspective is key. In short, you deserve inner-peace, joy and balance of mind, body and spirit. Here's to your health and wellness, today and always. ~ Dr. Iankowitz