Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.
About Parent-Child Relationships
I wrote about briefly in my blog two weeks ago. Just trying to explore this furthermore. All parents want the best for their children and are concerned about their well-being and happiness. At the same time, many parents find themselves limited to varying degrees in their ability to provide the love, warmth, direction and control necessary for their child’s optimal emotional development.
What is the main factor that interferes with parents’ abilities to provide the love, warmth, and control that is necessary for a child’s optimal development?
Aside from the outside pressure of balancing work and family responsibilities, the most significant problems we all face in raising children can be found in our families of origin. In order to be effective parents and develop secure attachments with our children, we need to make sense of what happened in our own childhoods. In recognizing where our beliefs and feelings about children come from, we can gain more control over the defensive behaviors that we feel compelled to act out with our children.
How do our mixed feelings about ourselves have an impact on us as parents?
The ambivalent attitudes we have toward ourselves are inevitably extended to our feelings about our children. The fact that we sometimes have negative, hostile feelings toward our children does not negate our love or concern for them.
What is the most important thing a person can do in order to be the best possible parent?
We can best help our children by trying to fulfill our own lives. When we are involved in an honest pursuit of our own development, we serve as positive role models for our children. Learning to have compassion for ourselves enables us to extend that compassion to our children.
Dads interfere with relationships for a variety of reasons. In every case, their interference stems from a feeling of entitlement toward the grown child. The parent feels that, by dint of giving birth to and raising their child, they have the right to have some say in their child’s life through adulthood. This is not always a bad thing; many times it stops at mere concern for the grown child’s life and gentle, well-meant advice. Unfortunately, in many cases it goes much further than that. Both parents have the potential for this kind of controlling behavior, though it is generally much more common of mothers than fathers. Why do mothers interfere?
Misplaced concern for a person’s welfare is perhaps the leading cause of motherly interference. In many mothers’ minds, their children are still children no matter how old they are. The mother has spent the better part of the last couple of decades raising her children and advising them in everything, and it’s hard to truly grasp that they are now adults capable of making their own decisions and living with the consequences of those choices. If a mother doesn’t approve of her child’s choice of mate for any reason, she’s more likely to try to advise her child out of sheer habit, and often out of a sometimes unconscious belief that she still knows what’s best for her kids.
From the outside looking in, no one can get a clear picture of any relationship. Many people are content to confide in their significant other rather than a parent at all times – except when there’s a problem. If there are issues within the relationship, people are more likely to turn to friends or family for advice. Parents are often the natural choice. A person will have had firsthand experience of the kind of relationship his/her parents had and so can see the results of advice given. Many times, parents who have made bad decisions can share with their grown children what they wish they’d done instead. However, seeking advice from parents can have the negative side effect of making them think that there is more bad than good. When there is no problem you don’t confide in them, and when people are perfectly happy they’re much less likely to share it with people outside the relationship than if they’re unhappy.
It can’t be denied that positive parenting is one tough job and parents have to believe that they have a long way to go. They just can’t be living in denial.
Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.