Lesson 6 of 7 - Learn how to parent effectively

Lesson 6 Study Guide

Effective Parenting 

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council

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The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/parent/guide6.htm

Updated March 25, 2014

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        This brief YouTube video provides perspeective to this self-imp0rovemenbt Lesson:

      Option - listen to this longer YouTube interview on how parents unintentionally pass on up to six psychological wounds to their young kids: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=461QHiHA6pI


        Premise: families exist to nurture - i.e. to fill their members' basic needs. Depending on many factors, families (like yours) range from low-nurturance to high-nurturance. This Lesson uses the ideas in the prior five Lessons to propose how to (a) nurture the young people in your family effectively, and (b) help protect your descendents from inheriting the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle. 

        This Lesson is meant to augment well-researched parenting programs like these:

Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) class, by Dr. Thomas Gordon

Systematic Training for Exceptional Parents (STEP)

The Active Parenting program, by Dr. Michael H. Popkin

This Lesson includes vital concepts that such parenting programs usually omit:

  • a family-systems vs. child-focused approach to effective parenting

  • normal personality subselves, false self, and true Self (Lesson 1 here)

  • the effects and healing of parents' psychological wounds (Lesson 1)

  • principles of effective thinking and communication (Lesson 2),

  • the importance of evolving and using a family grieving policy (Lesson 3)

  • how to analyze and resolve most relationship problems (Lesson 4)

  • traits of a high-nurturance family and family tree, and the toxic [wounds + unawareness] cycle (Lesson 5)

  • typical special needs of minor kids of parental death or divorce, and perspective on "Parent Alienation Syndrome" (PAS), and...

  • Quizzes to help parents assess their awareness of these topics.

Typical stepkids have special needs. Effective stepfamily co-parenting builds on Lessons 1 thru 6, and is outlined in Lesson 7.

       This Lesson assumes you're familiar with...

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

  • self-improvement Lessons 1 thru 5

  • the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle

How to Benefit from This Lesson

        I suggest you study and discuss this Lesson (6) with other family adults and supporters first. Then study one or more respected programs like those above.

        The best time to study these is before you have or adopt a child. Quality nurturing during a child's first 4 to 6 years will minimize problems later on! These Lesson-6 "assignments" are like a college course, and should take you several months to do - so adopt a patient long-range view.

        Accept that you won't know how effective your family adults are at parenting until each child leaves home to live independently and perhaps parent their own kids. Pace yourselves, and learn a little at a time. Seek basic principles, not rifle-shot solutions to parenting problems.

        Don't expect much benefit from these parenting assignments unless each of your primary parents and supporters is guided by her or his true Self. If they're not, focus your energy on Lesson 1 here.

        Use this sixth Break-the-Cycle Lesson as a flexible framework, and adapt it to fit your unique family situation. The assignments below build on each other, so do them in order. The more you study, the clearer all the materials will become.


  • print some or most articles and worksheets to refer to as you go

  • keep a notebook or journal to capture your reactions and validate your progress;

  • include resources in this Lesson in any family meetings;

  • alert other parents and any professionals supporting your family (e.g. counselors, clergy, etc.) to this course and/or Lesson;  

  • use this Lesson in any parenting-support group you participate in.

  Lesson 6 - Learn to Parent (Nurture) Effectively

        These assignments are for all parents, and extra ones for divorcing parents  They aim to raise your awareness of effective parenting, rather than decree absolute right/wrong ideas. Check off each assignment as you complete it, and hilight any you feel are specially useful. Ideally, study this Lesson with other family adults and supporters. Coach yourself as you learn: "Progress, not perfection!"

  A) All Parenting Adults

__ 1) Set the stage by scanning these brief selected research/news items about parenting and family life. Notice your thoughts and feelings as you do.

__ 2) Get quiet and undistracted, and take the first six of these quizzes without rushing. If you have trouble answering any items, study the appropriate Lesson before working on this one.

__ 3)  Review the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle that causes - and is caused by - ineffective parenting and social denial and indifference. _ Try describing the cycle to someone to see if you understand it.

__ 4) See if you agree with these ideas about effective parenting. Effective parenting is essential to protect your descendents from the cycle's toxic effects!

__ 5) Review this introduction to your family system. Effective parenting is most likely when your family system is functioning (nurturing) everyone (not just kids) well.

__ 6) Study this overview of high-nurturance ("functional") family systems. What's your family's nurturance level recently? (low > moderate > high). What would improve that?

__ 7) Consider these ideas about qualified child conception. How can you tell if a family ready to nurture a baby? Do you know any families who weren't ready?

__ 8) Study these classic ideas about eight child development stages by Dr. Erik Erickson. Where do each of your minor kids stand with these stages? If they need help with any stage, what help, and from whom?

__ 9) Review this concept of surface and primary needs (Lesson 4). Effective parenting aims to fill current primary adult and child needs consistently.

__ 10) See how many of these normal child-developmental needs you know. Then decide how well each need is filled in each of your minor kids.

__ 11) Review this video on three widespread types of early-childhood trauma

__ 12) Review this research summary connecting early-childhood "violence" with kids' "mental disorders."

__ 13) Review these poignant Yahoo questions from real, wounded teens

__ 14) Review this article on fear of abandonment (Lesson 1)

__ 15) Read this perspective on paremntal negrlect - one cause of psychological wounds

__ 16) Reflect on Dr. Abraham Maslow's ideas about how normal human needs rank. Do you agree with his ideas? How is each child doing with this "hierarchy of needs?" How are each of your family adults doing, starting with you? Note - typical kids of parental death and separation also have a mix of concurrent adjustment needs (#39 below).

__ 17)  Refer periodically to these ageless wisdoms about the young people in your life.

__ 18)  Compare these ideas about bonding with yours. Do you know any parents who are unable to bond with their kids and/or other people? If so, how does that affect their children? Their family's nurtur-ance level?

__ 19)  Do these long-term goals of effective parents match yours? How many busy parents do you think could articulate such goals for each dependent child and/or grandchild?

__ 30)  How many of these effective-parenting traits do you have?

__ 21)  How many of these nurturing values do your family adults have?

__ 22)  See if you know how to develop empathy in your minor kids. Did your parents know how?

__ 23)  Review these options for helping kids develop _ self-respect, self-love, and _ self confidence.

__ 24)  Review _ these keys to effective adult communication with minor kids and teens (Lesson 2), and _ these options for handling these three common family stressors (Lesson 4).

__ 25)  See if these premises about effective child discipline match yours.

__ 26)  Strengthen your ability to set and enforce effective boundaries (Lesson 4)

__ 27)  Consider this perspective on grandparents' vital nurturing role

__ 28)  Review these ideas on a family good-grief policy (Lesson 3). Are your kids learning to grieve effectively? Do you know how to grieve well? Option - review these selected research/news items on "good grief."

__ 29)  Are you factoring these common gender differences into your style of childcare?

__ 30)  Consider these suggestions on why and how to have effective family meetings.

__ 31)  See how you feel about these proposed adult priorities (Lesson 4).

__ 32)  Compare these traits of high-nurturance daycare centers, schools, churches, and child-related programs to those in your life now.

__ 33)  Review  these sample affirmations for parents. Do you use any when needed?

__ 34)  Scan  this comprehensive "ACES" Web site dedicated to preventing early-childhood trauma.

B) Common Parenting Problems

__ 35)  Consider these ideas about anger and frustration and family anger policies (Lesson 4)

__ 36)  Options for parenting an addicted child

__ 37)  Review and discuss any of these that pertain to you and/or your child/ren:

__ 38)  Review these options for resolving family conflict over a child leaving home (Lesson 5) 

__ 39)  Review these perspectives on _ sibling relationships and _ half-siblings 

__ 40)  Review these options for dealing with scapegoating, being a "black sheep," and/or bullying..

__ 41)  Review this intro to Asperger's Syndrome so you can learn how and why to assess for it. (In a different Web site)

C) And If You're Family is Divorcing...

      Study and discuss each item that is relevant to your family situation

__ 42)  Review these Q&A items about divorce and divorce-recovery (Lesson 4)

__ 43)  Review and discuss these relevant research summaries with other family adults and supporters

__ 44) Review this perspective on improving ex-mate relations (Lesson 4)

__ 45)  If your ex mate is psychologically wounded, review these options (Lesson 4)

__ 46)  Keys to effective parenting while divorcing

__ 47)  Typical divorce-adjustment needs minor kids need adult help to fill

__ 48)  Options for evolving effective parenting agreements 

__ 49)  Options for reaching optimal child-custody agreements

__ 50)  Q&A about financial child-support disputes

__ 51)  Options toward achieving harmonious child visitations

__ 52)  Options if one divorcing parent is disinterested / uninvolved

__ 53)  Options for adjusting to a child changing custodial homes

__ 54)  Perspective on "Parent Alienation / Malicious Mother" Syndrome

__ 55)  Options for managing a child's custodial-home relocating

__ 56)  Review these Q&A items about professional counseling (Lesson 4)

__ 57)  Adapt and discuss these ideas about family legal disputes if you have any

"Graduation" Exercise

__ 58)  Retake this quiz on effective parenting to see what you've learned.

+ + +

        Now you're prepared to study other useful courses on effective parenting like these (different Web sites):

Option - search the Web for "effective parenting."

        Notice what you're thinking and feeling as you finish this Lesson. Is their something you want to do now with what you've learned? Would the other adults in your family (and community) be able to pass these quizzes? Would the teachers in your schools? if not - why not?


        This sixth self-improvement Lesson proposes fundamental information that average adults need in order to raise a child successfully over two decades. Putting this information into practice requires typical adults to have (a) freed their true Self to guide them through the decades (Lesson 1), and to have (b) integrated the key ideas in each of the five prior lessons.

        Premise - the reason we are a nation of Grown Wounded Children (GWCs) is because a high majority of our parents and child caregivers (including grandparents and teachers) are unable to meet these two requisites. Our unaware citizens accept this, tho it is inexorably destroying our culture and environment. Does this include you?

If you're interested in growing and enjoying a high-nurturance stepfamily, continue with Lesson 7. If you're motivated to tell others about what you learned here, see these practical options

        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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