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Parenting Theories

By PAULA WELLNITZ


What is your theory of parenting? Is it the "caretaker theory" or the "apprenticeship theory?"

Do you see your role of parent, as your child grows past babyhood, as totally one of making sure s/he never suffers? Do you do almost everything for your child because it is easier, cleaner, takes less time, prevents errors.

Or do you share your world with your child? Are household tasks taught by doing them together according to the child's capability? When appropriate, is your child a participant in activities you, as an adult, are involved in? This last year I have been privileged to see a family that enjoys their children and uses this "apprenticeship style." The child generally gets great pleasure in being able to help.

It can be easy for a parent to justify that s/he doesn't like to see their child not having something or doing something other children have or do. S/he wants the child to be happy. Since I have seen the ultimate unhappiness of these children when grown, the reasoning of these parents is very questionable. Many grown children of "caretaker parents" lack basic abilities to do things for themselves. Unless they can get someone to do what is needed for them they give up on a task. Because there are things they would like and can't afford, they feel deprived, although they have all the necessities of human life. Their learned expectations leave them unhappy.

Parents who see themselves as responsible to teach their "apprentice child" how to live life will make sure the basic needs are filled. Besides this, they will help their child learn skills of living with people; of what one does when disappointed; how to support others when they need it; how to try again when they fail and to know what real love is. These children learn to live life by living it with their parents.





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