What is the child’s place in the family?

Of course, with the arrival of the child in the family, the dynamics of life change radically for adults in both their marital and parental roles.

Predominantly, the latter role will require the couple, the family as a whole, to “prove their mastery” in making room for children, in their lives and to begin to develop parenting skills. Basically, we are preparing to fulfill children’s needs covering all aspects: safety, care, affection, control and intellectual stimulation.

Easy said, hard done. It is, in reality, a whole complex process which poses difficulties for parents and which usually end up leading to certain types of problems in marital or family life.

For example, in the case of very young children, the mother may become exhausted because the child does not sleep at night or does not eat, she has to be around the child much more and thus less attention for her partner/husband. At the same time, if the husband feels that this is neglectful, that he should leave the child with someone else or ask for support in order to have privacy, then such topics often lead to disagreements. On a logical, explicit level, they are real, but their interpretation must be made on an affective, deep level for each person.

It is natural for a child to occupy a central place in the family in the first years of life. They are totally dependent on the support of their parents for their development, but also on their disposition and relationship as adults.

A child needs a solid emotional base to which he or she can always turn for security. If those who provide that base, the parents:

are careless with their own relationship,
don’t give each other respect and trust,
are consumed with fighting, exhausting activities or suffering,
hiding secrets or lies,

then the child will be deprived of emotional security, his or her self-esteem will be low and he or she will, as an adult, come to distrust adults.

On the other hand, where children already have greater autonomy, have grown up, it is recommended, for the health of the relationship, that partners/spouses make time for their couple.

Most often, as a couple and family therapist, I observe that many people find it difficult to set aside such time for themselves. Pertinent reasons will often present themselves, if they are sought after: work tasks, daily chores, cleaning, lessons, a parent’s illness, etc., but just as we understand that we need to water a flower so that it doesn’t wither, it is equally important that we periodically set aside time for ourselves as adults in the relationship. The frequency with which these enjoyable episodes can be repeated for both parents in the toddler and pre-school phase of families differs from one to another, it doesn’t have to be the same for everyone, but success in the couple comes through negotiation rather than compromise.

How much do you give your child of the needs he expresses? Where do we go wrong as parents?

The first thought in answer to the first question would be: ‘how much does each feel the need’. However, I would like to tell you that in life it is the parents’ beliefs and values, their emotional stage of development as adults and their general abilities that matter a lot.

Raising and educating a child, in the present time, no longer involves only GOOD or EVIL and, as such, doing or not doing a certain thing from these two perspectives, but knowledge, related information about oneself, combined with the ability to confront diverse realities both concrete and emotional and, which is based on circular thinking, as we family therapists say.

Weighing options means, for an adult, having diversified thinking and a lot of emotional resilience, because our balance nowadays results from how we perceive ourselves, and this aspect is much more important now, compared to 30-40 years ago, when things were more linear.

Abundance changes the rules of the game and has a direct impact on relationships with those around us and on children as well as parents. It makes a difference how we each understand how to maintain balance, but it’s good to consider healthy benchmarks, to look at our actions in the mirror of the future, to ask ourselves how a particular decision or behavior we make as parents will affect our child 10-15 years from now.

When we put pressure on children to do a lot of extracurricular activities for long periods of time, an over-stimulation effect occurs. And what will happen later in life is that they may end up, as an adult, not being able to cope with family tasks and all the responsibilities that come with life.

Valentina Shimon, systemic couple and family psychotherapist

Source photo: https://www.parents.com/