Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Challenges of Parenting

by: Dr. Lila Hakim, C.Psych.

Parents are often challenged by the shifting parenting strategies required to respond to their children’s changing developmental capacities and needs. When child-caregiver interactions meet children’s developmental needs, positive mental health outcomes are more likely in the short-term and down the road. 

Developmentally Sensitive Parenting: Child-caregiver interactions are important in a child’s development. These interactions have a long-lasting impact on our children’s self-development, the quality of relationships with others, and their overall psychological well-being. Parenting requires sensitivity to a child’s emerging developmental needs. 

Sometimes parents are unable to respond to developmental milestones, which then affects the child’s self-development. When parenting is out of sync with these important developmental milestones, it can be disruptive to healthy development and potentially compromise the security of the parent-child bond and the mental well-being of the child. In these circumstances, children and adolescents may begin to experience psychological symptoms and distress. CFIR psychologists can help you to parent in a manner that is sensitive to these developmental milestones. We help you develop strategies to respond to your children’s changing capacities and needs.

Parenting through Separation & Divorce: Parenting a child in the context of separation and divorce can be challenging. Learning how to talk to your children about separation and divorce in a developmentally-appropriate way is important to support children to deal with this difficult life transition. Often emotional distance, anger, and hurt in the primary couple relationship will have coloured home life for a long period of time prior to separation or divorce. Loss and grief experienced by the family breakdown and the eventual termination of the parent’s relationship have a reverberating effect on children. Learning how to effectively deal with children during the separation and divorce process supports parents and their children to ensure healthier psychological outcomes. CFIR psychologists can support you to address parenting issues in the context of separation and divorce, including navigating through emotionally difficult conversations associated with the various transitions involved in separation and divorce (i.e., leaving family home, child access, co-parenting).
Co-parenting: In the aftermath of divorce, parents are often challenged to create a new parenting relationship, particularly when children are young. Although the couple relationship did not work, parenting continues to be a shared responsibility. Developing an effective co-parenting strategy minimizes the impact of separation and divorce on children. Often this requires divorced parents to develop a collaborative strategy of care, despite the fact that their relationship is ending. Our clinicians can help you to resolve your co-parenting conflicts and develop a satisfying co-parenting relationship in the aftermath of separation and divorce.

Step-parenting: Bringing a step-parent into a child’s world can be challenging. Often parents are unsure of how to integrate the step-parent into the child’s world. The role of the step-parent must be clarified in a manner in which the child’s relationship with both of their parents is not harmed in any manner. Step-parents have a role to play in their step-children’s lives, but the process of integration is crucial to how this relationship will evolve. CFIR psychologists and clinicians are skilled in supporting you to develop a healthy blended family environment.