“Faith teaches that we are made for and formed by relationship. Science powerfully reveals this to be true. And the most foundational of all human relationships is the relationship between parent and child.” says Jeffrey Olrick, Ph.D.
If we want a child to trust his caregiver, to navigate her world without fear, to take risks in learning environments, and to seek healthy relationships with others, then we want to develop secure attachments with our children. Attachment Theory is the root of “connected parenting.”
All children need structure to thrive. They need to know that a parent is in charge, and they need a predictable environment with boundaries. Children also need nurturing. If a child is given all structure, he learns not to trust, if a child is given all nurture, he cannot grow.
Many parents lean towards an “Authoritarian Style” of parenting. This approach generally focuses on keeping rules and structure, and punishment is the end result of misbehavior. This style may acquire obedience, but does not foster relationship because it lacks nurture and connection.
A key premise to Connected Parenting is to connect first (nurture), correct next (structure). Letting your child know initially that they are okay with you and that you love them and are in relationship with them sets the tone for correction. Punishment, coercion, or rejection break the relationship.
A Connected Parent provides a balance of structure and nurture, knowing that one does not work well without the other. If a child is misbehaving and therefore needs more structure, the parent will simultaneously increase the level of nurture in order to keep these in balance. If a child is needing more nurture, such as being very emotional, clingy or fearful, the parent will increase structure as well in order to create an atmosphere of security. This balance requires parents to be attuned to their child and to know what the child needs. Connected parenting takes consistent effort and the ability to be aware of how we value relationship.
God relates to us, His children in much the same way. He shows us grace and mercy and provides direction and care as he corrects us. Romans 2:4 depicts this love, “Don’t you realize how patient he is being with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see that he has been waiting all this time without punishing you, to give you time to turn from your sin? His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.”
2. The Connected Child, Purvis, Cross, Sunshine
3. Raising a Secure Child, Hoffman, Cooper, Powell
4. Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, John Gottman PhD
by Melody Canton, LMHC, Wellspring Therapist
and Tova Kreps, LCSW, President & Co-Founder