General Parenting Issues — 26 December 2011
Parents – Use your eternal power wisely

Eternal power? Yes. Parents have tremendous influence over their children even beyond their earthly existence. How parents choose to exercise this power helps or hinders their children throughout their lives and cascades further onto future generations.

Three of the major areas of influence that parents have are: Teaching life lessons that become their children’s guiding principles; Securing the children’s sense of worth and lovability; and Reassuring the children’s equal status for life.

Parents are the major source of guidance and influence in the formation of their children’s physical, emotional, educational, social and spiritual development. They impart values, morals, life’s mottos and governing principles that serve their children’s evolution toward becoming healthy, happy and successful adults.

Researcher Joan Grusec explains, “For researchers interested in children’s development, parenting attitudes, cognitions and the resulting emotions (such as anger or happiness) are of interest because they guide parenting behavior, which in turn has its impact on children’s socio-emotional and cognitive development.”

Children learn right from wrong by observing their parents and absorbing their edicts, such as: “Get an education,” “Help others,” “Work hard,” “Follow your faith,” “Be honest,” and,“Be kind and accepting of others.” Good parents model for their children the values they espouse for their youngsters. Children use these guidelines along with their parents’ modeled behaviors to create their own mottos and principles for life.

Self-esteem is not an innate trait. Children acquire their sense of self-worth after birth through the validating and confirming messages they hear from their parents. Youngsters seek approval, praise and affirmation of their skills and accomplishments. But above all, they need to know that they are intrinsically and unconditionally lovable and are dearly loved.

Neuroscientist and author Marian Diamond, states, “Hard scientific evidence shows that love, attention, and affection in the first years of life have a direct and measurable impact on a child’s physical, mental, and emotional growth.”

The quest for evidence that one is loved is un-ending. Children yearn to receive parental love and validation throughout their adulthood and until their parents’ last breath. Parents, who can consistently express their love for and pride in their children at any age, gift them with an enduring sense of security and wellbeing that enriches them in all their life endeavors

The yearning for parental approval and love sometimes extends past the parents’ demise. Dividing assets equally between their children, enables parents to quell any worries about favoritism and spare adult children the grief of competition, rejection, hurt or worry about not having been equally loved.


  • Realize that your guidance, love and validation of your children enable them to mature and thrive.
  • Understand that your children need your ongoing words of appreciation and pride at every age to feel worthy and truly lovable.
  • Divide your assets equally between the children. It bolsters their security of having been equally cherished and facilitates their healthy connections with each other for life.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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