Mother: “My husband and I are very conscious about life. How we eat, what we buy, whether something is environmentally friendly, we all take it very seriously, sometimes a little too seriously. We were both raised that way. We both had to be young adult and independent due to circumstances. We know what people can do to each other, and we have lost our open-mindedness about it.
“That critical and perfectionist has given us nice jobs, a nice house, a good income, but it also makes us a bit worrisome in life. I always look with admiration at others, who can immediately respond spontaneously and happily to everything! For me, this concern is reinforced by the vulnerable age of the children, perhaps it will be a little less when the children are a little more independent.
“How do we avoid passing that worry on to our children? We have a 3 year old daughter and a 9 month old son. My daughter is the cheerfulness and spontaneity itself, I enjoy that so much. I would like her to remain so positive in life. But will she succeed if she has parents like us? I dug into that ‘positive parenting’ that you hear so much about now, Triple P: the Positive Pedagogical Programme, but I thought that was too superficial.”
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Bass Delivery: “There is nothing wrong with the parents. There are no recipes for a good upbringing, not even for turning children into bon vivants. But if parents understand the art of enjoyment, most children will learn a lot from it. In a study into the appreciation of group leaders in family-oriented homes, ‘positive mood maker’ was reported as a very relevant characteristic.
“Parenting obliges you to be optimistic. That obligation weighs more heavily since we can choose not to have children. I am convinced that it will run smoothly with the negative influence of worry in this family. These parents really think about what they want to give their children, but they also have an eye for their children’s fun. That warm involvement will not miss its effect. Overconscious parenting really doesn’t change that.
“I think it is strong that the mother was not persuaded by the intrusive advertising of ‘positive parenting’. Its ambitions extend beyond simply rewarding desired behavior.”
Break the rules
Liesbeth Groenhuijsen: “How fortunate these children are with their parents, who are so consciously occupied with their future. If the worrisome home were as intense as mother fears it is, the daughter wouldn’t be as happy, so there’s clearly room for fun in this family. Mother can reinforce this by singing, playing sports, coloring, painting with her toddler; activities that lift a person out of that tight adult body. I see many fathers and mothers who are a bit overloaded by work and care. As parents, try to keep time and quiet for wonder about your children.
“Break those rules once in a while. You could introduce a ‘free Saturday’: then we go out for some tasty chips or buy an irresponsible toy.
“I do see a pitfall: mother should not try to compensate for what she herself lacked in ‘lightness’ as a child. A child’s life is not uninhibited. Children must be allowed to experience adversity and the sadness about it. They learn from that: it will pass, and something new will come.”