January 11, 2006

'nuf said.

I have been reading about the entirely sound idea Good Enough Parenting. Seems to be a big deal in the UK. The basic idea is, what minimum conditions ought to be part of every child's life? The motivation for GEP is to fight 'a rising incidence of crime, violence, and delinquency and an ever increasing prison population, together with concern about deteriorating discipline in many schools. In addition there is increasing evidence that family breakdown through parental separation, divorce, or single parenthood has deleterious effects on the lives of children.'

The one who put forward the concept of good enough parenting recognised that it is unhelpful and unrealistic to demand perfection of parents-- and to do so undermines the efforts of the vast majority of parents who in all practical respects are 'good enough' to meet their children's needs. It is also a standard for when a child should be moved to an alternative environment.

The basic components of good enough parenting are:

(1) Love, care, and commitment. Children need to feel that they are loved consistently and unconditionally, and attachment behaviour is the natural consequence of this. According to the experts, without love, children are at risk for 'affectionless psychopathy'.

(2) Consistent limit setting. Boundaries must be set to show what behaviour is unacceptable, with due allowances made for developmental stages. Enforcement involves clear actions of either reward or disciplinary sanctions to ensure compliance within these boundaries. "Good enough" control requires the setting of reasonable boundaries which are enforced in a consistent yet loving way so that the child eventually accepts the reality of the boundaries and incorporates them in its actions. Ideally the child learns to live within generally acceptable boundaries for behaviour, that is, becomes socialised. If the boundaries are inherently unreasonable or control is applied inconsistently or too punitively this will be damaging to the child's development. Many habitual delinquents have been the subject of an indulgent lack of discipline interspersed with unpredictable and sudden outbursts of harsh discipline.

(3) The facilitation of development. This third aspect of parenting involves fostering the child's development to enable the child to fulfil his/her full potential. This involves every area of functioning, from the physical and intellectual to the moral, aesthetic, and spiritual. The child has a fundamental need for a secure base from which to explore his/her environment. "Good enough" care involves providing rich and varied stimulation in early childhood followed by involvement and support for the child throughout later years until adulthood is reached.

The consequences:

Defective loving care and commitment throughout early and middle childhood is a barrier to normal attachment. This will be expected to produce an insecure personality with low self esteem, and problems with peer relationships, marriage, and parenting. One or more types of personality disorder may be the consequence, with the most extreme result being "affectionless psychopathy".

Children brought up without controls or with totally confusing controls are at risk of future conduct disorder, delinquency, and criminal behaviour.

Children whose early development is blighted by neglect and understimulation are at risk of subsequent educational failure and social handicap.


At January 11, 2006 11:37 PM , Blogger Annie said...

I like the concept.


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