When you’re devoted and strongly bent on being the best parent ever it’s uncanny that you get so tired, wary, and even bored with parenthood. Your very well-being and the well-being of your children seem at stake. After 30 years as a psychoanalyst working with kids and parents I coined the term, Parental Intelligence, to help parents learn how to find out what’s going on in their child’s mind. At the crux of Parental Intelligence is finding out what your child is thinking, wondering, wishing, intending, and imagining. This ability brings the intrigue back to parenting.
In utero your baby hears the mother’s voice so that it’s the first sound that the baby keys into once outside the womb. Your partner’s voice comes next as most prominent if he or she is very involved with the newborn’s daily life. Then the baby learns the words of his everyday world as he grows monthly. Your baby is thinking and rapidly taking in the world around her.
At first all sounds are open to the developing brain. We restrict the sounds that become useful to the baby by the language we choose to speak. In bi- or multi-lingual homes the child retains the various sounds that they are open to them from the beginning and can adapt to learning more than one language early on.
Now your child has a full vocabulary and is interested in the world beyond the home. Their mind is full of questions and insights about their surroundings. As you engage them, you learn what interests them and lively conversations evolve.
You will be intrigued by your child if you not only listen but observe their behavior. Positive and negative behaviors are actually communications sending messages for parents to decode. If you decipher the messages, then you begin to help the child put that unruly or exciting behavior into words. Behind the behaviors if they are puzzling you may find problems that need expression to be solved. External behavior has internal meaning.
Now with Parental Intelligence you have become a parental “meaning-maker.” You discover the slammed door meant my girlfriend broke up with me. The temper tantrum meant I’m very sensitive when there’s a lot of noise around me — hypersensitive — when I’m given too many directions at once or asked to make too many choices. The ways to help your child cope with these problems now comes more easily and naturally because you know the causes for the negative behavior.
As your teen develops a sense of identity, it’s important to key into their minds closely. Having many conversations without interrupting them with ready solutions and advice often leads to deeper understanding. Simply ask your teens to tell you more about what’s on their minds and the flood gates can open if you’re genuinely attentive.
The Well-Being of Parents and Kids
Parenthood has become exciting because you know how your baby, your child, your teen thinks and processes the world. They may think things out in your way which is easy to follow or maybe they process new information entirely differently that you need to understand. Growing up in the age of fast technology, they may think very fast — faster that you. But if you have patience with them they will have patience with you. This furthers the parent-child bond and makes parenting the adventure you hoped for.
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold. Visit her at her website: http://lauriehollmanphd.com.
Originally published at medium.com