A Model for Parenting and Governing
Over a period of time now I have been writing about psychological issues and social implications. My blogs have drawn content from my 45 years of clinical psychology practice. Over the years I have treated so many children. One of the most important aspects of the treatment was the involvement with parents.
I like to draw an analogy between families and countries. A family is a microcosm of a country. The parents are the government. Children are the citizens. The family also has a systems of rules and a basis for love and caring. Today I would like to focus on the role of parents.
In my teaching model of intervention parents were my co-therapists when I treated their children. Any help for the child required that parents participated in the process. Parents represented a government. They must provide for the biological and security needs of the children. They have been appointed by nature and are held accountable by law for the protection and behavior of their children. It is the role of parents to follow through with my treatment plans. They must be willing to support a transformative effort to restructure their family/country thru all levels.
As we all know, the needs of the parents are monumental. There is considerable pressure. They have their own biological issues along with work requirements. There are education and training issues as well as psychological issues such as handling stress and personal emotional needs. Parents also carry with them the “baggage” of their own unique personal background of developmental and psychological issues.
When a country is functioning well parents are managing the flow of their family’s needs as well as their own personal needs. At times of conflict they are able to problem solve and make adjustments based on their current experiences. They are not blindly attached to repeating the same old patterns often laid down by previous generations.
A dysfunctional family is often the result of dysfunctional leadership.When the family is in crisis it begins at the governmental level. Questions about parental relationships, individual personal struggles and a sense of how to run a family need to be explored.
My work often involved providing marital counseling, parenting education, and individual therapy for a parent’s particular emotional conflict such as anxiety and depression. Parental burnout was also common. It seemed that parents at times can forgot their own names and not engaged in their own particular self interests such as a hobby. Running this family/county required maturity to deal with sharing time and space with their partner and children. Everyone gets a piece of the pie but not the whole pie.
Children are not ready for self governance. They look to their parents for leadership and considerable guidance. A child wants to trust that the parents are safely and kindly in control. Children gain strength and feel security from parents who are in good control.They seek approval along with direction. Children can be lifted up by love or crushed by harsh punishment. Children will also model and copy the behaviors, and beliefs and attitudes of their parents.
Our country’s current problems highlight a similar family structure. The President represents our parent figure. As citizens we look to our leadership to provide safety and security to all of us. When a government is functioning well it will try to fairly meet the needs of its citizens. It will try to promote a caring sense of social justice.
We need a President/parent that does not promote blame. Problem solving and making adjustments should be willingly enacted. Problems should signal a time for reflection, understanding and adjustment. Accepting change should be seen as a good philosophy to governing. A good leader will share decisions with its governing/parenting partners. It will seek compromise.
The needs of the government are monumental. Governing education similar to parenting education would be helpful. Leaders need to learn how to run a country. They need to know where to find factual resources and know who are your helpers are such as scientists, the congress and governors. A good leader knows that one rigid point of view does not allow for flexibility needed to facilitate necessary changes. A President should seek to reward and lift us up rather than punish and stir up anger, mistrust and resentment.
When the process of governing, as similarly to that of running a family, breaks down leaders of government should seek interventions. Social science can be helpful in facilitating conversation, trust and problem solving. Everyone could use a little psychological help every now and then. Seeking out intervention is a sign of strength not one of weakness. Every good therapist understands the need for a few sessions before their own issues consume them.
A family and a government share the same dynamic. Presidents and parents can all use an emotional adjustment every now and then!