Since it’s Thanksgiving, I wanted to do something different. Today, I’m getting personal. I want to take a step back and write about why I do this work.
My parents loved me. They had the greatest of intent, but, like so many parents, they had no idea how to be great parents. The truth is that, with all the stress that they faced each day with making ends meet, they struggled to manage their own emotions, let alone mine.
As such, when my oldest son was born over 15 years ago, I vowed to be a different kind of parent. I wanted to be a parent who raised his kids to be emotionally intelligent, securely attached, and well behaved. I also wanted to raise children that enjoyed relating with their parents, even during their adolescence!
During that time, I completed my first graduate degree (thank God!) and was in the middle of completing my second graduate degree (God help me!). Consequently, I had a lot of confidence as I considered parenthood with my wife. THEN WE ACTUALLY HAD KIDS. I soon found out, as we all do, just how hard parenting really was.
I followed my instincts when I could get centered enough to find them. When my instincts fell short, I took a risk and invested in myself, my dream as a parent, and my future as a dad. I read everything I could get my hands on, from research studies to popular parenting books. Through it all, I listened to my children and the attachment cues they were sending me on a daily basis. Thankfully, I’ve had several “big moments” along the way about connection, about compassion, and about the impossibility of controlling my kids even though most “experts” teach that I should.
I wasn’t a perfect Dad, and I’m still far from perfect; however, I have worked as hard as I can to:
- Intervene in ways that are patient, warm and still firm.
- Stay consistent in the standards I hold for my boys.
- Offer control that is fair and reasonable, not random or inconsistent.
- Develop expectations that are in line with what my boys can deliver at their age.
- Make demands that promote (not discourage) their growing independence.
I call this style of parenting “In Touch Parenting.” Thankfully, this approach is aligned with the research I conducted on effective parenting practices, not my opinion. So far, so good… my kids are growing into considerate, responsible, delightful young people (at least most of the time).
What I’m so deeply grateful for today is that the parents I have coached and continue to coach through the years have had a similar experience with their children! And that’s just part of the story. Each time I present at a parenting workshop, I see parents who love their kids dearly but struggle to do their best. With the challenges we face in today’s complex world, parents often lack the tools and information they need that can make life with their children so much easier and so much more rewarding. As such, I started In Touch Parenting and this newsletter to support parents everywhere.
The heart of my work has always been the readers who welcome me into their lives. I feel blessed to be engaged with parents so fiercely committed to their children that they’re willing to do the hardest work there is: look in the mirror and make changes in themselves.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you:
- For reading this newsletter each week.
- For being the parent you are to your child.
- For being brave enough to reach for compassion in the face of your own inevitable imperfections.
I get notes from parents telling me that following the advice in my newsletter has changed their lives. Even so, I also hear from parents saying that they need more than these articles can give. Typically, this is when they schedule an appointment. It’s a great opportunity to help busy parents raise their kids into young people who are happy, healthy, and thrive! So thank you for putting your faith in me. Thank you for putting your trust in me. And thanks for stopping by each week to see what I’ve posted.
Author: Steve Cuffari For many, Steve Cuffari is the mentor that parents call on to make their parenting style warmer, easier and more affective. He is the founder of inTouch Parenting, a company devoted to helping today's parents calm the chaos, raise emotionally intelligent kids, and nurture families that thrive. read more about Steve Cuffari here...