the baby better than his/her father." This pushes the father aside and
he may then get jealous or critical and withdraw. Child-care provided
by a controlling older female, say a grandmother or an aunt, can also
drive the father away from the child. To avoid these pitfalls it is
important to involve the father at birth and ever after. Let him work
out his own techniques with the baby, don't criticize or laugh at his
early efforts. This tiny little critter needs Dad's style of love and play;
Dad will forever cherish the involvement; Mom needs the help; the
marriage will be better.
Sometimes both Mom and Dad get so involved in attending the
baby's needs that they neglect each other and the marriage. Over
90% of new parents have more marital conflicts than before the baby.
Each parent has to keep a realistic perspective, in spite of this
helpless, charming, fascinating little darling. Both parents have equal
responsibility and opportunity to love this child but they have an even
greater involvement with the spouse. Children are socially dependent
on parents for only 12 to 15 years; they have to share their parents
with siblings; they are physically in their parents' lives for only 18 to
20 years. The spouse, on the other hand, is our most important
relationship for perhaps 60 years. A loving marriage is probably the
most important role model you can give your precious child, certainly
more healthy than a model of a doting parent.
Good parenting is one of life's major intellectual and emotional
challenges. It isn't something that "just happens." We need training
and experience before our child is born. No society has learned to do
this yet. Wise child-rearing requires us to use all the available wisdom
about controlling our behavior and emotions (discussed in previous
chapters). The communication skills discussed in chapter 13, such as
good listening, empathy, and persuasion, are even more needed with
loved ones than with strangers. Problems centering around chauvinism
in the family are discussed later in this chapter. Love, sex, marriage,
and divorce are dealt with in the next chapter. Fanning and McKay
(1994) offer men help in achieving a "new masculinity," including
being nurturing, unaggressive, and expressive of feelings.
The beginnings of our problems, parent blaming
How psychological problems begin (parent blaming?)
Freud saw psychological problems as originating in childhood, i.e.
caused primarily by parents, and this view has been hard to discredit.
At the end of this section, Table 9.2 summarizes some of the possible
consequences of certain types of parenting and certain circumstances
during childhood, such as an alcoholic parent, divorce, abuse, etc. In
general, there are two basic notions about how the harm is done to
children. One idea is that parents over-control the child, suppressing
the true, basically good nature of the child. The other idea (Pillari,
1992) is that the over-whelming needs of the parents cause them to
be abusive and overly critical, causing low self-esteem and self-