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Parents Looking Inward: Why It Isn’t Always So Easy

February 27, 2010

I was recently directed to the article, “Why We Fear Parenting,” via a Twitter friend. The author of the article, Meredith F. Small, states, “Although the parent-child relationship has been working smoothly for millions of years, today’s parents are quivering masses of indecision and self-doubt.” She hypothesizes as to why this is the case for today’s parents, citing societal changes resulting in fewer adults having had any hands-on experience with children.

While cautioning against advice from pediatricians and other “experts,” Small advises parents to look inward, pay attention, use common sense, and remain flexible if they want to be good parents. I wholeheartedly agree that good parenting requires some looking inward. In fact it’s one of my three keys to empowered parenting. I have no argument with Small’s other advice either. It is important for parents to pay attention and tune into their children’s experience, and who could deny the importance of common sense and flexibility?

For many parents, all this advice can be easily and naturally applied. However, for many parents that I have known, Small’s advice may seem oversimplified. It’s not always so easy to look inward and make sense of what we see there. It’s also not always so easy to learn to attune to others. If it was, we would have no need for psychologists and other mental health professionals. I know I’m biased since it is my profession, but I think the guidance from a trained, objective professional can be invaluable in helping gain personal insight and improving relationships. And I would hate to see those who identify a need and have the courage to seek assistance belittled or discouraged because they “should” be able to do it all on their own.

My hope is that parents will be able to learn to trust themselves in their parenting decisions, but if they need some help along the way to achieve that goal of self-confidence and trust, I will be happy to provide it.

I’d love to hear your feedback. What has been your experience with the process of looking inward? Where do you turn for advice with your parenting questions?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2010 12:22 am

    Being a parent is indeed not easy. I saw it in my parents when they took care of me when i was young and till now even though i already have my own family. Every time i have question regarding my parenting decision i always run to my mother, sometimes to my friends who are already parents but i must admit that sometimes there answers were not enough for me.

    • drcuneo permalink*
      February 28, 2010 11:58 am

      Thanks for your comment Kimberley. It’s great when we’re fortunate to have friends and family to turn to for advice. Sometimes it can be a challenge to know where to turn if their (or advice from experts) doesn’t ring true to us. It’s part of what makes the job of parenting so hard!

  2. February 28, 2010 10:19 pm

    I do find Small’s perspective a little narrow. I don’t see most parents today as “quivering masses of indecision and self-doubt”. Rather, there is an overabundance of ‘how to’ and superficial advice available, which neither encourages nor supports self-inquiry as part of the parenting journey.
    Parenting today is infinitely more complex than in the past, and parents need to spend time creating a network of support for themselves. It can look many different ways, but it is crucial to navigating the challenges of parenting, and the commensurate opportunities to grow ouselves in the process.

    • drcuneo permalink*
      March 3, 2010 7:05 am

      So true Ingrid. Having a network of support is vital.

  3. March 2, 2010 11:38 pm

    When I’m faced with a parenting struggle or question, I tend to look inward, outward and even under the couch cushions if I think it will help. I love seeking the advice/opinions of other moms just to gauge where I land on the continuum. I also trust my strong gut instincts about the “right” decision. And then I just hope for the best.

    • drcuneo permalink*
      March 3, 2010 7:04 am

      Sounds like a great approach Erin!

  4. March 15, 2010 7:28 pm

    Turning inward can sometimes bring up more emotions with my parenting that I intend. When I parent my children, I am reminded of how my parents raised me and this sometimes causes emotional issues to surface that I would otherwise rather just leave buried. Although on the other hand, sometimes when I think of past experiences, it is helpful to my daughter when I can tell a story to her that relates to something she is currently going through. The stories tend to make her feel better.

    • drcuneo permalink*
      March 18, 2010 7:42 pm

      Sometimes looking inward can be painful and confusing, and the timing isn’t always right to do it. However, when we try to keep things buried, they tend to have a way of leaking out in other ways. When we can find a way to have some peace and understanding about difficult things from our own experience of being parented, it can help us to become better parents.

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