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Can These Five Parenting Tools Make a Difference for Your Child?

by B. Bryan Post PhD, LCSW


(NC)-Parenting is much like gardening. Parents must prepare the soil, plant the seeds of a peaceful home, and lovingly care for and cultivate their children. There are five components of the parent-child relationship that are absolutely necessary to raising healthy children. The five components are acceptance, understanding, empathy, patience and love.


To accept someone means to provide for them a sense that they belong - to a group, a society, a church, or a family. Acceptance distinguishes between behavior and the person. Acceptance is the unspoken agreement between parent and child that the love between them is unshakeable, and that they are welcome and valued, now and forever.


Understanding between children and parents is often elusive, particularly when one or the other is frequently distracted by the demands of a busy world. Children misbehave when they are stressed and fearful. If the parent is self-aware and can recognize that the anger expressed by the child is truly misdirected fear, the parent can set aside their own fear and choose to respond in a loving and understanding manner.


Empathy is a skill that must be practiced, as putting oneself "in another's shoes", so to speak, is not always our first impulse. Being a self-aware parent requires us not only to practice an empathetic approach, but to identify with the feelings of our children as they experience them, not as we do. Empathizing with our misbehaving children challenges us as parents to behave with understanding and acceptance, even in the face of misbehavior and fear.


Being patient is a process that arises from a sense of calm and well-being. When stressed, it is easy for responses to be sharp-edged. It is important for parents to be aware of their own emotional state and to be sensitive to the times when stress may be driving interactions. The practice of empathy, understanding and acceptance together can provide a basis for patience.


Love combines empathy, understanding, acceptance and patience together to bring about a fulfilled and fulfilling presence. However, simply saying "I love you" to a child is not enough. Love is not merely an emotion, but a long chain of behaviors and actions that, taken together, represent devotion to another. As such, love takes effort and a degree of honesty with ourselves and with others that brooks no diversion or deception. "Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:8

B. Bryan Post PhD, LCSW, author, speaker, and attachment and trauma expert is the founder of the Post Institute for Family-Centered Therapy. To download a FREE copy of Dr. Post's parenting book visit:



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