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Want Your Kids To Be Happy For A Lifetime? Make Them Feel Secure In The Early Days

Want Your Kids To Be Happy For A Lifetime? Make Them Feel Secure In The Early Days

Has your child ever scraped their knee on the playground, then come running to you, crying, with open arms? When kids feel secure with their parents or caregivers, they automatically turn to them for comfort. Some parent behaviors foster that sense of security, while other actions can break it down.

Knowing the right way to react to your child in certain situations can be tricky. Here’s what to do to ensure you are raising your child to be a secure adult and setting them up to form healthy relationships later on.

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Respond to their needs

Research behind attachment theory shows that kids have already established a sense of trust, or lack thereof, with their caregiver before they reach the age of one.[1] If they are used to you reacting when they cry because they need something, they feel secure—they know they can count on you. They associate their relationship with you as one of comfort and dependability.

If they are frequently ignored or rejected when they have a legitimate need, they may become what’s called “insecurely attached,” and look to you not out of a feeling of security but rather out of necessity. This insecurity can carry over into their adult relationships.

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Some kids may take advantage of the fact that adults respond when they act out. Use your judgement, but don’t blow your child off if they really need something. Being alert and attentive to your kids’ needs shows them that they’re a priority to you.

Get to know your child’s strengths and weaknesses

No two kids are alike. If you have more than one child, you may see that one is more rowdy and may need reminders to calm down, while the other is shy and may need encouragement when around other people. In order to understand how to interact with them in a way that is beneficial, you need to know what is unique about them.

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The only way to get to know your children in this way is to spend time with them. You need to see how they react in certain situations to become familiar with their habits. Then you’ll be better-equipped with a customized approach for how best to help them when they need something.

This approach doesn’t mean letting your child get special treatment or extra attention–if they do something wrong, or consistently repeat negative behaviors, it’s OK to let them know their behavior is not right and that there will be consequences. What matters is your approach and your understanding that the way to get the message across to them may be different for each kid.

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Don’t assume your kid knows how you feel about them

Tell them! Although you know you love your kids and you show them affection every day, they often don’t connect the dots and understand that you think the world of them. Tell them that you love them on a regular basis. Let them know that you care about them. Ask them about what they’re doing or what problems they are going through, and let them know you’re there for support.

By the same token, engage with your child at home and make them a part of household responsibilities. Tell them how much you appreciate their help. Besides training them to be more responsible, this can teach them to show gratitude toward others. Studies show that those who say thank you are generally more compassionate and willing to help out.[2]

Kids learn by example. Set a good one for them from the beginning. Be there for them, and they’ll have a better chance of growing up to be caring adults and parents themselves.

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Megan Machucho

Freelance Blogger and Copywriter

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

Reference

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