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There was probably nothing as wonderful as the day your baby was born. You looked forward to that day and all your maternal desires kicked in. The new baby was soft and cuddly and love poured out of you.

Then almost immediately you felt out of your depth. The baby would not settle and cried a lot. One nurse told you to let him suckle all day, another said the baby would thrive on three hour intervals. One nurse insisted the baby would sleep better on his side while yet another warned you that the only safe position was on his back. Your mother encouraged you to breast feed while your best friend whispered that the bottle was more convenient.

The list goes on and on and continues to this day. You are bombarded by experts who are telling you how to parent. Also, you are confronted with a child who has a mind of his own who will not always comply when you attempt a strategy. You probably feel overwhelmed, confused and inadequate and often worry that you are letting your child down.

The Truth About Parenting

The truth is that being a parent is difficult and confronting. Whenever two people are in a relationship, it is always complex because there are two different personalities, two different sets of needs and two different histories. Just because the other person in this relationship is your child does not make this easier. In fact it complicates things because you have to live together (at least for 16 years) and you feel responsible for his or her development.

I believe in holistic parenting. Since the way you behave in a relationship is impacted on by many different factors, I like to look at the whole parent before prescribing a method of parenting or a solution to a problem. In the same vein, I like to understand a child before prescribing a system or solution. Other factors like home environment, school environment, extraneous circumstances and health are also taken into account when evaluating parenting issues.

I also believe in your capacity to do a great job as a parent. More and more parents today look to experts to "fix" their child. However, for generations parents did quite well without experts and I do not think that the human species is that different to 50 years ago. Sure there is a lot we can learn about doing things better but I think we need to be cautious not to throw "the baby out with the bath water". I encourage you to trust your own instincts more and to choose a parenting style that feels good to you even if it is not the latest trend.

Being a parent is a natural part of the human life span. Therefore if you are finding that it is excruciatingly tough, then it means that you are going about it the wrong way. Yes, being a parent is hard work physically and emotionally but it should feel worthwhile most of the time. Hopefully it will even feel pleasurable most of the time. Should it feel awful most of the time, then it is important that have the courage and honesty to re-evaluate your thinking and practices.

You will be surprised at how simple change can be when you learn what comprises holistic parenting. Understanding your personality style, for instance, and how it collides with your child's personality style, goes a long way to preventing conflict. This is an inside-out approach. When you realise that you have a belief about success that is interfering with your ability to accept your child, and you change it, you will see immediate changes in his behaviour. This is an inside-out approach.

Often the tempo at home contributes to a child's behaviour patterns. Therefore, simply changing the pace and rushing less, can quickly calm your child. This is an outside-in approach. Similarly, when you focus on your child every now and then rather than talking on the phone constantly, you will find that he is will disrupt your phone calls less. This too is an outside-in approach.

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  • If you would like to learn how to be a better parent please subscribe to my Key to Parenting newsletter in the left column of this page which will be sent to you on a monthly basis, or you can visit my newsletter subscriptions page to receive newsletters on other topics that I write about.
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