Nicole Iacovoni, LCSW, Founder & Executive Clinician at Willow Tree Wellness & Counseling, LLC, Bloomsburg, PA
In Wayne Dyer’s book, “What Do We Really Want for Our Children?”, he introduces a novel method of parenting that raises children to develop positive self image, self discipline, emotional resilience, and a positive, no-limit way of living. Dyer suggests providing unconditional love and acceptance to our children, using praise instead of punishment, and acting as a guide rather than a caretaker to encourage children to become independent, high functioning contributors in the world.
So, what do we really want for our children? Most parents want their children to grow up happy, healthy, self-reliant, and confident in themselves and their abilities. To some, this can seem like an unachievable goal. Many may even use the excuse that their child is too old to begin implementing new parenting strategies that will lead to their child’s personal growth. Whatever the age, it is never too late to take charge of your life and make all your hopes for your children become a reality.
Looking back on your own childhood, what do you wish would have been different? What do you wish you had more of as a child? What do you wish your parents had taught you while you were growing up? In general, we all want unconditional love and acceptance from our parents. We want high self-esteem, effective strategies for dealing with anger, being free from illness and pain, and to enjoy life. We want to be able to take risks without fearing failure and have the ability to form and maintain meaningful relationships with others. Now, as a parent yourself, you are in charge of providing all of these things to your own children.
But how? The first step is to understand that we cannot teach what we do not know. If we don’t enjoy life, have positive self image, or cope with anger effectively ourselves, we can’t teach our children how to. We must always lead by example and serve as a model for our children. To give our children what we really want for them, we must first work on ourselves.
Leading by example certainly isn’t easy, but it is effective. Engaging in the same type of behavior that you want your child to change is pointless. Dyer points out, “An angry child is best answered by a calm person. A lazy child is best encouraged by an enthusiastic person”. However, we often get caught in a trap of trying to gain power and control over our children. We attempt to prove that we are the ultimate authority. We demand respect and with a “do what your told” attitude rather than a “do what I do” approach.
If we challenge ourselves to be role models for our children, there is little else for us to worry about. The principal goal of parenting is teaching children to become their own parents. We want our children to be self-reliant, free thinkers who trust their own abilities and skills. We want our children to become independent so they aren’t dependent upon us for the rest of their lives. By giving our children responsibility, encouraging them to face the consequences of their actions, and guiding them to concern themselves only with their own opinions, rather than the opinions of others, we help our children develop a sense of control over their own lives.
We need to treat children as though they are whole now. We must escape the notion that children have yet to become what they will be. It is erroneous to believe that children aren’t “big enough”, “strong enough”, or “smart enough” to achieve their goals. Self-confidence is learned by doing. If we treat our children as if they already are what they are capable of becoming and allow them to gain experience, we help them become self-confident. This is non-interference. By not placing limits on our children, telling them they can’t do something, we give them a precious gift; our faith and trust in their potential.
The parenting approaches suggested by Dyer are unique, revolutionary, and highly effective. In “What Do We Really Want for Our Children”, Dyer provides specific techniques for raising children in a way that is loving, respectful, and positive. He also raises thoughtful questions that provoke self exploration and insight. We highly recommend this book for parents who feel lost, seek to yell less and love more, or have identified that their current parenting approach just isn’t working.