In last week’s blog, I wrote about the emotionally unavailable parent and how it affects the child. Here is an example of the second type of parent also studied by Dr. Gottman at the Talaris Institute.
Are you the second type of parent? The second type of parent according to Dr.Gottman, has a totally different attitude. These parents take notice of their children’s emotional state of mind and have a much more developed vocabulary about emotion. They ask their child questions about their emotions and they aid and abet them in being more introspective about it. When a child is undergoing some type of emotional stress, the parent may ask; what is it that makes you fearful or sad? This individual does this with their partner as well. As an example, they may look at their child’s emotions as a “global positioning station” according to Dr. Gottman. “If you’re angry, it probably means you have a goal you’re not attaining.” They look at their emotions and their child’s as a way to connect. They will explain to their children (depending upon age and understanding), what’s on their mind and how they aim to deal with a particular situation. This type of parent communicates understanding and empathy, and helps the child use the appropriate words to express feelings. When this approach is used, the child’s internal locus of control or GPS system is reinstated. These parents give their children enough information to understand why they are feeling and acting in certain ways, and then let the child decide how to deal with the situation, but always with support and praise for appropriate decisions.