Friday, July 15, 2005

Children: The "Divine Burden"

Dr. Noah H. Kersey, Ph.D.

Imagine a classified ad for parents. It might read:

"Wanted, parents to raise young children to adulthood. The only requirement for this position is the ability to procreate. No education, training or experience necessary. In addition, there's no salary, no sick leave or vacation time".

No other job in the world with such a description has so many of us lined up to take on such a difficult and demanding task as raising children.

They do not come with instructions, so it is on-the-job training and it is easy to think one is getting a failing grade, no matter how hard the parent attempts to do well.

In Ephesians 6:4, the Apostle Paul tells us, in part: "……do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instructions of the Lord."

As with most tasks, everything is "easier said than done."

Birthing, or adopting, and raising children are one of the most difficult responsibilities anyone can ever undertake in this life.

Think about surgeons training for twelve-plus years to perform surgical operations, but their work is not nearly as crucial as it is to be a good parent raising a child.

Notice that the emphasis is on the word "good".

Most parents have the best of intentions, but will look back and experience many regrets about the mistakes they made raising their children. It seems that every generation repeats this same process and feels the same regrets.

Parents inadvertently injure their children with the unresolved issues of their own childhood and do not realize it until their children begin exhibiting problems. Being cognizant of their personal "apperceptions" can be helpful to a parent to know how this is impacting their offspring.

Apperception is defined as "the way a person perceives themselves, the world, and others, based on earlier emotional experiences". It can be their childhood that is being re-enacted each day without the parent even knowing what is happening.

Occasionally, one can hear a parent comment, "That is how my parents raised me, and what was good enough for me should be good enough for my children".

This is not always the case.

There are two things that children need from their parents more than anything else aside from the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter.

They need to feel significant and they need to feel safe.

For children to feel significant, parents must attend to their child's developing self-esteem.

Nurturance is an essential ingredient in this process, and to nurture, a parent has to show affection, encouragement, and unconditional acceptance to the child. A parent can state to a child, "you are a good person, but I do not approve of what you did", thus avoiding the damaging label of "bad boy/girl", when correcting the child.

It is far different to be an evaluative and corrective parent, keeping the focus on the behavior and not the value of the child, than it is to be a punitive and critical parent, which only damages the child's self-esteem.

For children to feel safe, parents must understand their role as the "Protector" of the child and that the responsibility of protection comes from three different perspectives.

First, the parent is required to protect their child from others who would harm them.

Second, the parent must prevent the child from harming themselves.

Third, and the most crucial for the child to grow up perceiving the world as a safe place to be, is providing protection from the "Protector".

Many parents do not realize when they are the source of the damage to their child because of their own emotional problems.

There are two basic psychological principles to remember when raising a child and for a parent to feel better about their parenting skills:

Principle One: Children would rather be punished than be ignored.

If you ignore your child during good behavior, they'll find a way to get your attention even if it means getting into trouble.

Principle Two: Any behavior that is followed by a pleasurable experience is more likely to be repeated.

Catch your child in the act of doing well and make sure they get attention, praise them, and they will do it again.

Hitting or berating your child only teaches them violence, and damages their self-esteem.

In Matthew 18:6 Christ warns that it would be better for us to be drowned at sea, that it would be for any of us to harm a child.

Dr. Kersey is a licensed psychologist and has been practicing in Indiana since 1987. You may contact him through his website at

Monday, July 04, 2005

Top Ten List of a Successful Marriage

# 1. When your partner is talking, stop and listen carefully.

# 2. When speaking, be clear and concise.

# 3. Be trustworthy.

# 4. Be willing to make sacrifices for each other.

# 5. Be forgiving, it overcomes resentment.

# 6. Be affectionate several times a day.

# 7. Say “Thank You” often. Be appreciative.

# 8. In all things be kind to each other.

# 9. Try to understand the other person’s point of view.

# 10. Learn from your mistakes, never hesitate to say you’re sorry.

Matthew 7:12 says that… everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…

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