Getting To Know Your Child — Part 1: Understanding The Basics

April 15, 2011

Body

Children need to be given nutrition, and it's important to maintain a regular feeding schedule to maintain optimal operation of your child...

You can envision where that might go next, but unfortunately, babies don't come with instructions. Parents are fraught with countless challenges that often arise at 3:00 a.m. Many parents report they experience long periods where a good night's sleep is a forgotten luxury. And that's with 2 parents — single parents I bow deeply in your direction.

As a result, adults who are sleep deprived often have decreases in mental alertness, functioning and impulse control. The unfortunate outcome can be child abuse. While I can't provide you with the manual, I thought I might talk a little about your relationship with your child. In the part 2, we'll talk about stress and how you cope with it. I hope this helps in those stressful moments that is collectively called "parenting".

First, remember, no one expects you to be Super Parent all the time. A Super Parent is merely a mythical being and does not really exist. You will have your moments, and hopefully they will be many. However, you only must be adequate all the time. Adequate means that you will make mistakes, but you will come to recognize and make corrections as you go along. Your child did not come with instructions and childhood is a learning process for both you and your child.

You and your child are embarking on a long-term relationship. Think about all of the social relationships you've had in the past. The commonality is that you spend the first part of the relationship learning about each other. The same holds true for your relationship with your child. However, your relationship with your child is special. Aspects of this relationship will play out in your child's life for the rest of his life — how's that for pressure?!

It all starts with basic communications you learn from each other at 3:00 a.m. when he cries, and you sleepwalk to his room for a feeding. The communication process will teach you about his personality and teach him about yours. Through you, he learns about the world around him. Through your interactions, you teach whether the world is safe and hopeful, or dangerous and despairing. The parent-child relationship is one of the most socially intimate relationships that exists. As you learn about each other, your relationship will become deep and even more fulfilling. It all starts at 3:00 a.m.

The developing relationship include feeding, reading and singing to your child, making faces and as they get older having difficult discussions. These relationships change as your child matures. The feeding process, for example, is very intricate with all kinds of communication occurring during the process. Think about everything involved from the baby crying to alert you to your burping the baby and laying him down after he falls asleep. It is a wonderful opportunity for you to have meaningful conversations with your baby.

As you will have seen from my previous blog entry, I am very concerned with child abuse and neglect. What you might ask does this have to do with child abuse? The answer is plenty. Parents who form a strong healthy bond with their children, are knowledgeable about what children need, what to expect from them, and have good support are much less likely to hurt their children intentionally. So while I don't have an instruction manual, I can give you resources with which to build this most important of relationships.

I'll write about stress and how to cope with it in Part 2.

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