Parenting skills develop over time. Parents are not 'born' or 'created' at the time of their child's birth, rather, people become parents through an ongoing process of learning and observing. This is likely to involve learning and observing from their child/adolescent's development as well as from their own.
As a child develops so too do their needs. They begin to require different ways of interacting with parents. The needs of a 6 month old baby are very different to that of a two year old to even that of a 12 year old. This in turn puts a pressure on parents to modify their parenting techniques to match the developmental stage and related requirements of their child/adolescent. This in itself can be confusing for both parent and child/adolescent.
Parents are influenced by memories from their own childhood/adolescent experiences. These memories may serve to support or to block the development of parenting. For example, if one has had parents who for their own reasons were not comfortable with their own strong feelings, it would be hard for them to then be comfortable with strong feelings expressed by their child. When that child becomes a parent similar struggles with strong feelings may be enacted with his/her own child leading to a bewildering vicious cycle for all.
The process of learning to be a parent requires time and support for both parent and child. A parent who feels supported both externally (via family, friends and community) and internally (not emotionally overburdened) will be in a better position to provide support for their child on both a physical and emotional level. Where parents are feeling alone and unsupported they may find it difficult in turn to support their children on both these levels.
Parenting can be a very rewarding but also overwhelming experience at times. It is a constantly changing role in relation to the child/adolescent's development. Parent counselling can be helpful in offering a space for parent and counsellor to think together about the changes that are occurring and the impact of this on both the parent and child/adolescent and their relationship with one another.
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