From the Parent Coach's Desk

STRESS LIMITS PARENTAL WARMTH

Just for today: decrease your stress level and increase your parental warmth.

Multiple research studies have identified parental warmth as the single most important quality that serves as a protective factor for a child during the stress of a family break up.

Parental warmth is almost nonexistent when Mom and Dad are caught up in adult struggles with litigation, financial concerns, competition for parenting time and all the other distractions from being present to your child in this moment. Instead parents do "checklist parenting", where they are going through the motions of caring for the child but are not really connected or attentive.

Expressions of parental warmth require attention and thoughtfulness. When a parent is under stress they tend to operate on a kind of auto-pilot that cuts them off from their child. Challenge yourself to start your day with some quiet time to prepare yourself for your first contact with your child/ren. Then move into your day with the intention to be present to your child without distraction each time you talk to them or interact with them.

Concentrate and focus in the moment. Set a goal to spend 1 hour total over the course of the day just child-focused and playing. The moments add up.

What is parental warmth?
1 Calm behavior.
2 Kind attitude.
3 Thoughtful gestures.
4 Focused attention.
5 Loving and nurturing words.
6 Affectionate touch.
7 Genuine conversation.

Parents in the midst of difficult transitions sometimes get in the habit of thinking they will take care of themselves and the children when....the divorce is final, the house is sold, things calm down at the job, the bills are paid. The list goes on and on. Our children need our loving and warmth every day. They suffer when we are so focused on some future point in time that we can't be present now.

Don't wait to share moments of parental warmth with your children. And certainly don't wait for those moments to magically appear. Make it happen. You are in control of your child's emotional and mental well being. You are responsible.

So if you cannot practice those 7 attributes of parental warmth, get some therapy or education or support! You deserve it and your child absolutely needs it for survival.