Becoming professional means becoming a conscious parent—that is, possessing a set of core values and applying them to parenting in a systematic and consistent way. The following discussion involves four essential elements of professionalism taken from Dr. Gerald Newmark’s best-selling book How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children…Meeting the Five Needs of Children and Parents Too!
When parents possess a clear set of core values, they are less likely to work at cross-purposes or to misunderstand each other’s actions or motives. It gives focus to their parenting activities and increases the probability that they will act more effectively. The initial step in making the five critical needs of children an effective part of family life is to solidify this intent with the following conscious decisions:
Adopting the Five Critical Needs
I will adopt the five critical needs as core values to guide my behavior as follows:
1. By treating my children with as much respect as I would want to receive and give.
2. By treating my children in ways that enhance their feeling of being important.
3. By accepting my children as unique, independent individuals entitled to their own ideas, feelings, thoughts, and opinions.
4. By helping my children feel a sense of community—creating family activities in which they are involved and viewing our family as a “Learning Community.”
5. By increasing my children’s feeling of security through role-modeling a loving, respectful relationship with my spouse or, if a single parent, with the significant others in my life.
2) Having a Game Plan
Changing habits or starting new habits is not easy. Many good intentions break down because they never get converted to action. The idea is to make a commitment and get started immediately, even if only in a small way. As you gradually start doing things in a more systematic way, it will become easier and you will want to do more.
3) Becoming a Student of Your Own Behavior
Asking one another for feedback is rare among family members, nor does it occur to parents to have regular family feedback sessions to talk about what’s happening in their lives and how to make them better. Cultivate a positive attitude (all feedback is useful). View criticism as an act of friendship and concern, not hostility. If you agree with it, use it to take positive action. If you disagree, take the opportunity to clarify and clear the air. Engaging in the feedback activities has the potential for being one of the most interesting and valuable experiences of family life. In a future article we’ll provide a tool for studying your own behavior.
4) Having an Experimental Attitude
Accepting life as one big experiment, the family becomes a fertile and special laboratory to conduct your very own research on how to create an emotionally healthy environment in which the individuals are both the experimenters and the subjects. As you look at your own behavior and identify something you did well, you might then choose to try different ways to expand on this or, for something you didn’t do well, ways to improve. Starting family meetings early in the process is important. This is where you emphasize the concept of the family as a community and what that means in terms of responsibilities to one another and for one’s own well-being.
In this article, we stressed the importance of becoming a conscious, thoughtful parent, of not leaving parenting to chance. The goal of developing emotionally healthy children involves making your child’s emotional needs a priority, applying the four elements of professionalism as a strategy, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle by not neglecting your own personal needs.
Satisfying a child’s five critical emotional needs will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.