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Perfecting Parenting

The popular television series The Dog Whisperer hosted by Cesar Milan shows him working with difficult and sometimes dangerous dogs. Cesar says “he rehabilitates dogs and trains their owners.” Cesar is not only insightful with dogs, but he’s a superb people psychologist as well. In most cases dogs learn bad behavior because their owners either permit it or caused it in the first place.

I was at our subdivision’s pool for about two and a half hours one day last summer, and I observed a woman that had brought her two children to the pool. For the entire time, even when she went to the snack shop, she was on her cell phone. When the kids would come out of the pool and say “watch this mommy” her reply was “can’t you see mommy is on her phone?”

I decided to drive to the bookstore and as I got up to leave I noticed that she was gathering up her kids and was still talking on her cell phone. Her conversation with her various friends could only be labeled as gossip by anyone who had to hear it. From what I heard, her conversations were totally condemning, critical and judgmental of everyone she talked about.

Coincidently she was going to the books store as well. The traffic was such that I had to follow her for the entire twenty minute trip. I couldn’t help but notice that her cell phone only left her ear long enough for her to place a new call! When I left the bookstore, her kids were arguing while she remained engaged in her conversations! If you would ask her how she spent her day, she would probably indicate that she spent it with her kids.

The truth of the matter was that she wasn’t even remotely engaged with her children. She did frequently threaten them with time outs if they didn’t stop this that or the other thing immediately. What is wrong in this picture?

I’ve often said that barring a physical problem, “it doesn’t take much effort to have sex and give birth to a child, but to raise one to be a balanced, happy, confident member of society, that… takes a lot of work.”

As a behavioral therapist that’s board certified in both clinical and medical hypnotherapy, some of the individuals that I see are children. The one’s that make it to my office are pretty messed up. Quite often they are like this because their parents are permissive or not emotionally available to their kids. It’s easier to buy the children something than to connect with them and teach and show interest in them.

A parent’s job is not to be their child’s best friend; the child will have a lot of friends in life. But it is to be a parent. There’s a big difference.


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