Parenting: Positive Parenting with John Gray (cont.)
I believe that life is not perfect; life is not ideal. However, we need to have ideals so we can point our sail in the right direction and move towards that. These are not the ideals that we think are ideal -- mom and dad having a successful relationship, raising their children together. If mom and dad are incapable of that, then getting a divorce and raising their children separately but cooperatively. So the child spends some time with the mother, then the father. A single parent raising a child alone is capable of nurturing their emotional needs through relationships with other adults. This is different from the mother or father feeling guilty about being the only parent, and seeking to remedy the situation by over-parenting, thereby neglecting their own personal life. While this is a noble effort to sacrifice one's personal life to raise your children, it will often create too much bonding between parent and child, too much interdependence, and one undesirable side-effect is that the child feels burdened and too pressured to be good or responsible for their parent. Children ideally need to feel that they're not responsible for their parents' happiness, but their parents have their own lives and are happy and fulfilled, and with that happiness, overflow with unconditional love for their children. Children who receive this kind of love are free to worry about their own problems and work through their own issues with the support from the parent. A child who feels responsible for their parent's pain, and be a surrogate mate -- while this child is more cooperative in younger years, in later years, they tend to have problems, as is evidenced by so many adults today in therapy.
Moderator: What outside pressures and influences would you regard as the most negative and might prevent successful parenting?
Dr. Gray: The number one influence that prevents successful parenting, is accepting the notion that the status quo parenting skills should work. All of our parenting skills and styles go back to times when parents accepted dictators, or were ruled by royalty, instead of people. Our governments have changed, our businesses have changed, our society has changed, but still the old dictator-like model of parenting continues on. This is the number one factor that influences our children the most. While many people complain about TV-- too much TV of course is not healthy. However, TV itself and the programs themselves are not the main problem. It's how parents communicate with their children, and how parents manage their children, and then parents can mange how much time children spend watching TV. And it's inappropriate for a child under eight to watch the news. Most parents don't even know this. Children under eight do not have logical reasoning. If there was a murder in another country, that child has no way of knowing that the murder isn't next to their bedroom. Children need to be protected from certain things TV brings, but another issue is parenting styles.
The second is nutrition and diet. Children don't drink enough water. They're drinking soft drinks and juices, and drinks which are filled with refined sugar, which cause children to become hyperactive or moody and temperamental. There have been studies to refute what I've said, and I question the funding of those studies. It doesn't take a study to explain what goes on at a birthday party. As soon as you pull out the cake and ice cream, you have a bunch of wild and crazy kids. All wise parents know that you should have the cake and ice cream at the end of the party, otherwise they're unmanageable. I'm not against cake and ice cream, but it has to be in balance and moderation. Children are eating too much refined sugar. They need more fruits, or basic natural foods, and not the foods which are over-refined and over-processed. This just causes, as I mentioned, hyperactivity and moodiness.
Then comes to three: In terms of outside influences is the opportunity for stimulation in nature. Children used to have exposure to animals, rivers, sunshine, climbing trees, playing in nature. This is one of the most balancing and stabilizing influences on children, and when they don't get enough of it, they will become unmanageable. The influence of TV is certainly negative, but I'd put it low on the list compared to other things our children are deprived of. Children who get the appropriate supervision, appropriate diet, and appropriate opportunities to have fun and nature, are much less drawn to the negative stimulation that can occur on TV or the Internet. That becomes less of a problem to monitor.
Moderator: How do you use these parenting skills when each child in a large family has various temperaments and personalities?
Dr. Gray: When you have a large family, your job certainly increases, and the thought of having to learn something new seems overwhelming. However, once you learn the four temperaments, it becomes so much easier to manage these children. It's just simply understanding what language your children speaks. If your children spoke different languages, but you were fluent in those languages, it's just a matter of addressing each in those languages. Every new language has a different learning curve. As you read the chapter on temperaments, it may seem overwhelming, but it's only 20 pages. After several attempts of reading and applying it, it becomes easy to apply. It seems like a lot because no one ever pointed out these simple truths before.
Moderator: How do I handle bad behavior if a child throws a tantrum in a public place?
Dr. Gray: Two answers to this question: First, how to prevent your child from throwing tantrums in a public place, and second, what to do when it happens. When a child throws a tantrum in a public place, it's a clear indication that your parenting style is too soft. At home you are too permissive. This means that to avoid your child's tantrums, you will cater too much to your child's whims and wishes. You accommodate and adjust yourself too much so that your child doesn't throw tantrums at home. As a result, when you are in public, you don't have the same opportunity to cater to your child's every wish and whim. If you set strong limits at home and allow your child to throw tantrums at home by putting them in a time-out, as a regular procedure-- simply pick them up and put them in a time-out, and stand there by the door, and hold it shut, and let them know you're there and it's okay to scream, but that it has to be in a confined space. By making sure your child is throwing the tantrums they need at home in an appropriate way, they will not feel the need to throw tantrums in public.