Lesson 6 of 7 - Learn to parent effectively

2 girls

Common Long-term Goals
of Effective Parents

What they strive to accomplish

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council


Updated  04-03-2015

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      This is one of a series of articles in Lesson 6 - learn what typical kids need as they grow, and how to fill their needs effectively over two decades without neglecting yourself.

            This article assumes you're familiar with...

  • the intro to this nonprofit Web site. and the premises underlying it

  • self-improvement Lessons 1 thru 5

  • traits of a high-nurturance family

  • normal developmental needs of typical minor kids,

  • Erik Erikson's stages of human development; and...

  • these wise observations about kids.

      This brief video offers perspective on effective parenting:


      Premises - most parents are psychologically wounded and unaware. Without admitting and correcting these, they unintentionally pass on wounds and unawareness to their kids. This ancestral bequest is silent, lethal, and spreading in global cultures, because of the public's wounds, unawareness, and denial.

      From this perspective, effective (vs. good or bad) parents want to...

  • intentionally study and discuss the topics in this online course;

  • admit and proactively reduce any psychological wounds (Lesson 1);

  • make three wise mate choices (Lesson 4);

  • make wise child-conception and/or adoption decisions;

  • commit to co-creating a high-nurturance family for themselves and heir kids;

  • learn and monitor each young child's developmental and special needs; and...

  • place steady high priority on guarding minor kids and grandkids from inheriting ancestral [wounds + unawareness].

The range of major social problems suggests that most parents are failing at this, and that the public condones this failure. Do you agree? 

      Since the early 1980's, fresh perspectives on "effective parenting" have emerged from the U.S. Inner child / Adult Child / Dysfunctional Family movement. The ideas below reflect this. The ideas are offered as food for thought and discussion, not rigid absolutes.

      In this Web site, "a parent" is anyone who has ongoing responsibility for protecting, guiding, and nurturing a minor child toward adult independence over time. In this sense, "parent" or "stepparent" is a role (a set of goals, responsibilities, and rules), not a person. Ideally, men and women who choose the role of parent (and grandparent) find ongoing satisfaction in trying to fill the dynamic needs of each child in their care as well as their own needs.

      Premise: An effective parent consistently guides dependent children toward eventually...

  • developing a well-functioning personality led by an unhindered true Self;

  • leaving home with tolerable anxiety, and becoming...

  • a balanced, healthy, self-responsible, self-nurturing, "happy," productive adult and citizen, who may choose to...

  • become a satisfied mate and an effective parent themselves.

      This two-decade process involves filling a mosaic of changing physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental needs in each growing child ("nurturing"), and helping them develop over 20 things like those below. Option - after you read the list, reread it and rank-order each goal's importance in your situation - e.g. H(igh), M(edium), or L(ow). These sample goals are not ranked or ordered.

      Option: use this as a checklist to see how you're doing with your kid/s.

  Effective-parenting Goals  

      Note which of these objectives you agree with, which you'd redefine, and which don't fit for you. Also: which of these did you get? Give? Which evoke the strongest feelings in you? Why? Discussing these with your family adults can be very useful.

      Goal 1)  Patiently...

  • model and encourage each child's awareness of themselves and the dynamics between people, and...

  • teach them the concepts and words to help them think about and describe these awarenesses accurately. This includes...

  • modeling and teaching youngsters how to empathize with others' feelings and needs.

      2)  Instill a clear, healthy sense of personal identity and related  boundaries: "This is who I am; what I like, need, believe, and hope for; and how and where I differ from you." This parenting goal includes developing the child's abilities to clearly say "No," "Yes," "Stop," and "I want and need..." without great anxiety, guilt, or shame, and with respect for other peoples' equal rights and boundaries;

      3)  Instill the unshakable belief "I am lovable, valuable, unique, and important in the world, simply because I'm Me. I matter, and so does every other person!" Effective parents help kids to value their own worth, dignity, wants, needs, ideas, dreams, and feelings as being just as important as (not more important than) any other person's. 

      This implies patiently helping each small child, who first feels weak, "dumb," clumsy, and dependent, to eventually replace their normal feelings of shame, inadequacy, and self-doubt with healthy self respect and realistic self confidence. Did your parents do that for you?;

      4)  Instill healthy core values that the child grows to understand, believe, can name, and uses as guides for safe, satisfying daily living and growth. These may include honesty, diligence; courage; creativity; Self care is good; respect my Self and others equally; sensitivity; balance work, play, and rest daily; honor; try new things; nurture myself, others, and our Earth; and many more...

      Parenting Goal 5)  Build kids' trust...

  • in their own perceptions, judgment, and competencies;

  • that caregivers, most authorities, and true friends will consistently support (vs. attack, use, abuse, or ignore) them. This implies learning how to discipline kids firmly and lovingly; and build their trust...

  • that the world is generally safe, where there's usually enough.

This parenting goal also includes developing a child’s abilities to (a) decide "Who merits my trust?," and (b) to act on that, without undue fear, anxiety, or shame. A common psychological wound is an inability to trust wisely, and not knowing that or how to heal it.

      6)  Effective parents develop each child’s...

  • awareness and appreciation of their unique talents and limitations; and their...

  • motivation and ability to keep developing these gifts on their own, and to...

  • use them productively in the world and to enjoy the results.

      Goal 7)  Help kids grow...

  • guilt-free self respect and non-egotistical self love,

  • a healthy, realistic self-image, and...

  • realistic self confidence, based on the child's growing skills, achievements, talents, and limitations;

      And over time, effective parents strive to,,.

      8)  Help kids to (a) accept their inevitable limitations and failures without undue frustration, guilt, or shame; and (b) help them to see that most "mistakes" are chances to learn. And parents strive to...

      9)  Encourage kids to grow steady faith that (a) their life has real meaning, definable purposes, and attainable objectives, and that (b) there is a benign (vs. conditionally-loving or punitive) Higher Power in the universe providing reliable guidance and support in times of trouble and peace;

      10)  Help children grow skills in learning, thinking, communicating, and problem-solving effectively. These include: (a) the art of comfortably giving and receiving merited praise, and (b) noticing and managing internal and interpersonal conflicts. Lesson 2 here shows how to do this essential task;

      Goal 11)  Grow kids' humility and non-arrogant pride in their personal uniqueness and achievements, and equally valuing and accepting these in others. This implies that an effective parent doesn't require their child to be a clone or god/ess;

      12)  Instill inner permission to clearly express current thoughts, feelings, and needs - with discretion, and without undue anxiety, guilts, or shame. This implies teaching a child how to...

      13)  feel, manage, and safely express emotions like anger, fear, confusion, lust, embarrassment and shame, frustration, guilt, sorrow, and hurt; and teaching them to 

      14)  Grow their ability to grieve their inevitable life losses (broken bonds) well, on all three levels. Most adults weren't taught how to do this, which is why Lesson 3 exists here.

      And effective parents help their kids grow...

      15)  Interest in, and reverence for, our biosphere (vs. abuse or indifference); and grow the motivation and abilities to (c) learn how the world works, and to (d)  apply their learnings constructively, within their limits; and...

      Goal 16)  Instill appreciation and healthy self-care of their mind, spirit, and body, no matter what it's form. This includes learning and Self-motivated practice of healthy personal hygiene, nutrition, and balanced rest, work, and exercise; And effective parents seek to...

      17)  Instill the abilities to socialize and cooperate willingly and harmoniously with selected others, without neglecting their own needs; 

      18)  Seek and accept help when needed, without resentment or feeling like an imposer, wimp, or weakling; and teach kids to...

      19)  Build healthy (vs. toxic) relationships with nurturing others, based on mutual love, trust, respect, and support rather than neediness, fear, control, or power. This goal includes nurturing each child's ability to exchange true intimacy, which depends partly on courage to risk rejection and abandonment.

      And an effective parent tries to... 

      20)  Help kids accept and appreciate themselves as spiritual and sexual beings, and consistently practice wholistically-healthy behaviors and limits in each domain; And...

      Goal 21)  Help kids be clear on what masculinity and femininity are in themselves and others in their culture, and to be comfortable with their own gender and gender preference. This implies helping each child to learn "What do (healthy) grown women and men do in many situations, and how do I get to be like that safely?";

      22)  See that each child gets the best general and special education available, and learns to love learning. "Education" includes learning how to manage money and debts, manage a home and vehicle, and find and keep a rewarding job and/or trade;

      23) (a) Be clear on the process, responsibilities, realities, and joys of conceiving and/or parenting children; and (b) grow a high integrity and commitment to raising their own kids (if any) toward many of these long-term parenting goals.

      24)  Adults in typical multi-home divorcing families and stepfamilies have many extra adult and child adjustment needs to identify and juggle. Effective parents will want to study, adapt, and apply Lessons 1 thru 7 before their family reorganizes.

    25)  The overarching goals of effective parents are to patiently guide each child's personality subselves to...
  • trust the child's developing true Self (capital "S") to make effective life decisions, and to...

  • let go of depending on others' ruling subselves to make their decisions for them. This is the core of developing genuine adult self-responsibility, and the essence of what it means to "grow up."

Restated: effective parents guard their children against developing psychological wounds. See Lesson 1.

+ + +

      Pause, breathe, and notice your thoughts and feelings. Have you ever seen such specific child-nurturance targets in one place before? How do you feel? Would you edit or delete any of them? If you rewrite this list and make it yours, you'll have the draft of a valuable parenting job description to guide you and to tell others what you're trying to do as a responsible parent.

      These sample goals apply to any child-caretaker, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, sitters, nannies, day-care staff, clergy, coaches, counselors, and classroom teachers.

      Option: review the list, and rank order them - e.g. most important > moderately important > least important.

Status Check

      Reflect - how many of these 25 goals did you get consistently as a young child and teen?

      __  less than 10  __ 10 to 15  __ more than 15. How has that affected you as an adult?

      How many of these goals are you and your family adults pursuing intentionally with your young people now?

      __  less than 10  __ 10 to 15  __ more than 15.

If your family adults need to upgrade your long-term parenting goals, what do you need to change - specifically?

      The list of caregiving objectives above illustrates why family-life experts believe effective parenting is among the toughest, most important, and ultimately most rewarding of all human endeavors. This importance is magnified, because every grown child impacts a great fan of hundreds of people in their lifetime.

      What do you suppose happens to children who don’t get consistent, loving adult help (nurturance) to meet their developmental needs and these goals? Do you know anyone who didn't get enough nurturance?


      This is one of a series of Web articles devoted to exploring effective parenting, which is the key to breaking the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle. Based on typical kids' developmental needs,

      the article proposes 25 specific goals that informed caregivers can work towards to evolve a Grown Nurtured Child (GNC). Achieving these goals is most likely if all family adults and supporters have studied and discussed Lessons 1 thru 6 here.    

      Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your true Self, or ''someone else''?

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