The Essential Parent

Happy Families Read Together

The Essential Parent is one who is involved in the lives of those she lives with and has respect for herself. In an ideal world, parent and infant exist in an atmosphere of joy. But the world is real, and parent-child relationships are complex. An infant may grow up in one of any number of primary relationships. Traditionally, the mother tends to the baby while the father tends to the mother, but these days, the father may be the one to provide primary care while the mother tends to him. There are many different parenting scenarios such as: adoptive parents, step-parents, single parents, grandparents, and day care workers.

Whatever the relationship, a caretaker needs a set of crucial skills which I am calling essential. Parents who have learned these skills have had to do so by trial and error. Parental Intelligence is a guide that will help a concerned parent become an essential parent.

What is the essential parent?  The essential parent is devoted to developing a secure attachment to his or her child. Secure attachment requires a reciprocal give-and-take between parent and child and an emotional bond that has a positive impact on the child’s emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal development and thus fosters healthy growth. Even when the parent is absent, the child carries this attachment internally.

Sometimes the child-parent relationship feels like a maze. The essential parent accepts the challenge and helps the child find his or her way through the maze time and time again. Ruptures in the relationship cannot be avoided, but the continued experience of repair secures and strengthens the relationship. The child learns to trust the parent because he or she is invested in understanding the child’s vast array of emotions. Respect and trust are earned as pleasures are shared and problems are solved.

The essential parent is sensitive to his or her child’s happiness as well as distress. The essential parent is there for the long haul.