can improve greatly. If so, the world should already be reaping the
rewards of more and more loving child care. Is it? It's hard to tell.
In contrast to 200 years ago, today's family tries to create a loving
environment for everyone, especially the children, although both
parents frequently work outside the home. Ideally, the family lives for
one another, however. Families are supposed to be accepting and
tolerant of children so they will develop self-esteem. Yet, families
should also provide a sense of purpose, an understanding of rules,
values, obligations, and a feeling of where you fit in. Home should be a
pleasant, loving environment for growing and interacting. Possibly
two-thirds of our families today give fairly good child care. We have
come a long way in terms of health and physical comfort! However, we
may not have learned much psychology. All of us parents will still need
help--therapy, consultation, information--many times during the
process of raising a child. Lee Salk (1992) reminds us of the
importance of a good family life and gives us advice about nurturing
family values and a loving, caring environment.
Problems within the family (Satir)
Families are responsible for producing a healthy, well adjusted,
caring, reasonable, productive and loving new generation. That is an
awesome responsibility and probably the hardest job in the world.
Indeed, we are clearly expecting too much from untrained, often
emotionally stressed parents. We all should help each other achieve
those goals (that means we must seek guidance about our most
intimate relationships and not hide our parenting "behind closed
doors"). The quality of a child's entire life should not be entirely in the
hands of his/her parents. Schools help some but there is much more
useful knowledge they could be providing all of us before and after we
create new lives (see Satir, 1972; Pogrebin, 1983). Furthermore, to
promote love and health, families must offer all members friendship,
especially time and love--whenever it is needed. "Home is a place you
can always go and they have to take you in." Instead of dominating
and controlling one another, families can grant equality and freedom
to each other. Families can freely give and receive love. That's so
much better than fighting for advantages or control.
Virginia Satir (1972, 1988), a renowned therapist, wrote two of the
best books about families. She says that troubled families have four
areas to improve:
self-esteem --in healthy families every person feels good about
him/herself, not just Dad and/or Mom.
communication --in healthy families there are clear, honest,
direct messages sent and everyone avoids these four responses
a placater--"I always want to do what you want to do."
(I'm worthless. Payoff: Hides my needs.)
a blamer--"You screwed it up again." (I'm always right.
Payoff: Hides my need to be close to the other person.)