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Parent counseling

My son Valmik, 7 years old, studies in the 2nd standard in an English medium school. In the school, they had arranged for a parent-counseling seminar. In the seminar, I found that most parents were like me, very unclear about how to bring up children in today’s world. I have found that whatever action we take, we are criticized because of the effect on the child – be it in the matter of discipline, restrictions or play. Has the world, in general, become oversensitive to parenting? Is it becoming a business for the counselors, or a fashion statement for the schools? Please help with this problem.


Parenting can be extremely lonely and most parents are insecure and wonder whether they are doing as well. Most parenting workshops are child-centered and emphasize that a child basically wants to behave well and will behave well if he is handled wisely, thus making parents responsible for everything that goes wrong. Parents feel it extremely burdensome, discouraging and oppressive. However most parents who are caught in this situation feel that it will be a lot faster, better if they can get outside assistance. This is where the professionals come in.

What does a child want? He only wants to be enjoyed for what he is. He wants a niche of his own in his parents’ heart. Raising children is one of the most important and difficult jobs. It is a task all have to accept even though there is very little experience and absolutely no formal training. There are not many ways to know for sure whether you are doing that job well. All you can do is your best. Success in parenting is a journey, not a destination. You need to ensure that you are on the right road and going in the right direction instead of just at the right speed. While the children feel that they have to lie on a bed of thorns, the parents’ lament often is that theirs is not a bed of roses either. Learning to parent is made up of learning from mistakes and not from successes. When something goes wrong, a parent must reorganize in order to remedy the situation. Mistakes and wrong choices stand out and grab you, successes do not. Parental love is not a romantic, euphoric, sentimental, gushy visceral feeling but a love which involves appreciating each child’s individual make-up, responding with genuine pleasure to a child’s achievements and disciplining children by firmness and example rather than by authoritarianism and punishment. Parental love is not just hugging and beaming and bragging but includes wanting your children to be approved of by your relatives and friends for their help and politeness and to be appreciated by their teachers for their good habits, wanting them to grow up to be responsible workers, respected neighbors, devoted spouses and parents. All these concerns condemn you to be a fusser. You have to wait for your rewards: the occasional compliment or achievement. So, be patient. Psychological growth takes place in many directions and not all at once. The cost of each new achievement can temporarily disrupt the child’s and the family’s whole progress. Parents can become alarmed and lose their own balance. Each of the child’s behavior should be seen as an opportunity to understand the child more deeply and to support his or her growth, rather than to become locked into a struggle. A child’s particular strengths and vulnerabilities as well as temperamental and coping style also matter. Parents are likely to meet a child’s behavior with anxiety and an attempt to control the behavior. At a time when the child is searching for a new sense of autonomy, they add the pressure to conform. This can reinforce any deviant behavior and set it as a habit pattern. Passion creates determination, which may supersede judgment. If parents can understand the child’s powerful need to establish his or her own autonomous pattern, they may be able to break a vicious circle of overreaction and conflict. Rewards for right choices are deep and quiet. In any case, what parents do at any point may not be as critical as the emotional atmosphere that surrounds their action. Some of the parents who confess lack of feelings of love are blaming themselves unnecessarily and that some of those who are trying to show absolute love are trying to achieve what is humanly impossible. Love in that sense covers a lot of attitudes and feelings: clinging for security, physical attraction, possessiveness, religious devotion, adulation, companionship and so on.

Dr. Darshan Shah

Dr. Darshan Shah, a renowned psychiatrist and psychotherapist, is committed to make a difference in the area of mental health and help individuals cope with feelings and symptoms; change behavior patterns that may contribute to one’s illness and henceforth contribute to their newly improved pathway of life.