Parenting, where are the instructions!!
Is it right to do this thing is it wrong to do that thing? Parents rarely choose a parenting style, but rather, they have a parenting style. Where do we get our knowledge of how to do things? Our knowledge of what to do comes from our main care givers, usually our parents. So, how good (or not so good) were they?
Are you being the best parent you can be by doing what your parents did and you liked that, or are you ‘opposite parenting‘ which is when you are not doing your own parenting at all, but instead, you are just doing the opposite of what your parents did because you did like what they did? Either way, you’re trying to do what’s right.
What is right and what is wrong, is very personal to families. What one family regards as normal, may horrify or confuse another family. There are however, some guidelines as to what might be good according to the principles generally of what every child needs as a growing, feeling, needing, loving human being, regardless of where you are in the world, and regardless of who your main care givers are eg a married couple, a living together couple, a single mum, a single dad, two dads, two mums, nans and grandads…any combination the child’s needs remain the same.
According to the Psychotherapist Adrienne Lee, the general categories of what a caregiver is (or provides) is shown through her diagram of what she has named SPACER.
The Parenting Processes (Lee 2014), SPACER stands for:
Soother: To learn about and have empathy, to be empathic with the child, if they are not achieving this then the result will be that they escalate or smother the child. If the parent soothes, the child learns to experience calm and learns to self-soothe and learns to be able to calm themselves
Protector: Alert and attentive to what might be dangerous and to be resourceful, if not then the parent may be neglectful or even damaging or abusive to the child. If the parent protects, the child learns to be safe and learns their own groundedness
Advocate: Gives language and values, if not then the parent can become a blamer. If the child has that advocate in the parent, then will find their voice instead of being silenced
Celebrator: to celebrate the child and can teach the child delight and to share that delight, if not they can’t do that internally for themselves if not then the children are shamed when the parent shames instead If the parent celebrates them and with them, they learn to have pleasure without shame
Educator: Parents provides enough learning experiences to enable a healthy curiosity, if not then the child just gets dictated to or repressed
Regulator: Parent sets healthy boundaries and keeps the child attached in a way that is healthy and consistent, if not then the child experiences inconsistency and feels abandonment
As with the rest of the world, the rest of how we get the balance to have a healthy life style. If we as parents then overdo any of these things in the SPACER parent processes, then we will take away the balance of the purpose of the SPACER. There should be space between the world and the child, there should be spacer between the child and the needs of the child so that the child has space to grow.
There is more on parenting processes and the uses of knowing parenting styles and parental guidance on the workshops