Parenting isn’t an easy job. We all want to create a healthy, harmonious family life, and we all do the best we can. But conflict, behavioural issues and the pressure to keep everything under control can lead to a lot of stress and frustration.
In his latest book, Parenting for a Happier Home, Melbourne-based psychologist Stuart Passmore provides a practical guide to improving the parent-child relationship. Grounded in solid research, this book offers advice on enhancing your child’s emotional development, the types of discipline that actually work, and encouraging your child to take ownership of their behaviour.
Here, Stuart shares a few gems of parenting wisdom.
Why did you decide to write this book?
My passion is to help tired, exhausted and frustrated parents battling their child’s non-compliant behaviour. Parents and families seem to be under ever increasing stress, and while there is ease of access to all sorts of advice on parenting, we have to be careful of the information we read and accept.
Rather than Parenting for a Happier Home being a ‘one-style-fits-all’ approach, or nothing more than my experiences or opinions, this is an evidenced based book that is designed to teach parents the most effective ways of parenting their children, along with teaching effective, non-punitive discipline grounded in sound research.
"Everyone in the family needs to know they are loved, accepted and respected, and this is especially true of the parent-child relationship."
What are the essential elements of a healthy, harmonious family life?
Everyone in the family needs to know they are loved, accepted and respected, and this is especially true of the parent-child relationship. Children need to have a secure attachment to their parents and have their need to belong fulfilled.
Sometimes children’s behaviour can push us to our limits, but absolute unconditional love with firm boundaries of expected behaviour for every member of the family is critical.
Can you describe the concept of authoritative parenting?
An authoritative style of parenting is considered to be a balanced, well-adjusted, stable and unwavering approach to child rearing. This is because the authoritative parenting style is marked by firm rules and shared decision making in a warm, loving and supportive environment.
Authoritative parenting is characterised by acceptance, interactional warmth and responsiveness, unconditional love for the child as an individual and treating the child with kindness and dignity. To put it simply, authoritative parenting shows absolute respect toward the child.
What are some of the most common challenges parents struggle with – and how can they be overcome?
I often hear frustrated, desperate and hurting parents describe the strained parent-child relationship. Parents can feel like they have tried everything but nothing seems to work and as desperate as they are to draw closer to their child, they tend to feel as though the parent-child relationship is just falling apart.
The book Parenting for a Happier Home can teach parents how to rebuild or strengthen the parent-child relationship and use effective, non-punitive discipline. Also, in my experience, the skills in the book can help couples to parent together and can begin rebuilding an often strained relationship with one another.
"Emotional intelligence and moral development are two of the most powerful ways to assist a child’s emotional development."
How can parents enhance their child's emotional development?
Emotional intelligence and moral development are two of the most powerful ways to assist a child’s emotional development. While there are specific chapters on these two critical issues, the entire book is so designed to teach parents ways to further their child’s emotional intelligence.
Talking about and labelling emotions and assisting a child to understand cause and effect are powerful ways of fostering the development of emotional intelligence in children. Helping a child to develop empathy is also one of the foundations to emotional intelligence.
What's the top piece of advice you'd give to new parents?
Some of the most common causes of conflict in families I tend to deal with could be avoided by parents talking openly with each other about their parenting styles, their expectations of each other as parents, what goals and dreams they might have as parents and as a family, what behaviours and morals they want to teach their children, how they might discipline their child (e.g. just sit and explain to the child their behaviour might be wrong) and what kind of discipline they might use (e.g. time out, removing some privileges).
Finally, learn about emotional intelligence and how to teach it to your child.
Parenting for a Happier Home by Stuart Passmore is available from Exisle Publishing.