I’ve read a lot of books on child development, the Montessori method, positive parenting, etc. Coming from a background in psychology, and neuropsych specifically, it has been drilled into my head the importance of evidence-based practices (thanks Kennedy Krieger!). I was not sold on Montessori until I learned how much the philosophy jives with what we know about brain development. Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius is a great way to get a fuller, in depth understanding of the method.
As I learn more and feel that I’ve developed a pretty good sense of the best approaches, which have for the most part aligned with my formal education, I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting styles and the importance of structure and stability in childrens’ lives. Especially given the fact that we are a blended family. It is often a struggle to keep the same rules in both houses and the same level of stability. Everyone knows this is the ideal. But how important is it really?? Children need a strong, stable foundation from which to flourish and reach their potential. Adversity is character-building, but not from a place of inconsistency and instability. They will not just adapt, but rather, struggle all the more for it. Maybe they will be successful, but it will likely be in spite of it, rather than because of it. Inconsistency breeds lack of security and self-confidence, not knowing what to expect next from the world they are in, or even how to make sense of it. A prime opportunity for issues and struggles in the future, as one grows through adolescence and prepares to make a life of his/her own. Will it be a mentally and emotionally healthy one, or one full of questions, still wondering who they are or where they fit in in this crazy world? Will they be able to build healthy, positive, loving, stable relationships?
“Safety, stability, and nurturing are three critical qualities of relationships that make a
difference for children as they grow and develop. They can be defined as follows:
■ Safety: The extent to which a child is free from fear and secure from physical or
psychological harm within their social and physical environment.
■ Stability: The degree of predictability and consistency in a child’s social,
emotional, and physical environment.
■ Nurturing: The extent to which a parent or caregiver is available and able to”
So what can we do to improve stability in childhood? What about single parents? Is this too tall an order? Every parent has to find a balance between what is feasible and what is best for their child. Does this mean making an effort to move as few times as possible? Maybe forgoing dating altogether, or waiting to introduce children to new partners when you are sure things are serious (the less people in and out of the child’s life, the better)? Maybe it is simply keeping a routine of one on one time or meals together, something that your child knows they could count on, without fail. What are your suggestions?