Remarkably, when Nina Sidell was hit by an oncoming SUV while crossing the street, she was able to walk away from it with just soft-tissue damage.  She felt spared—not hurt to the degree that she could or would have been. Moreover, she understood how fragile life could be.

“I felt like something miraculous happened that day. That I had a much bigger purpose to fulfill,” recalls Sidell.

It stopped her dead in her tracks. It took a brush with death for Sidell to realize her life’s purpose. She has always been passionate about helping other people. Through the years, she has helped clients navigate through life’s challenges and build resilient, loving relationships in flourishing gardens.

Now, she feels compelled to branch out and reach a wider audience with her message. Sidell believes that everyone needs healing, especially families. In her recently released book “Parenting for Life,” thirty years of clinical experience came pouring out of this psychotherapist: She has created a blueprint for strengthening families for the 21st century.

Provide Fertile Soil

 Today, the two most common mistakes that parents make asserts Sidell is that they are too permissive or anxious and exhausted. When permissive there is a parent/child role reversal, and when anxious parents tend to over react.

Noel Janis-Norton in Calmer, Happier, Easier Parenting has part of the answer: “When our children perceive us as steady and calm—regardless of their moods or behaviors—they can relax, knowing they can rely on us to get them through the challenging moments of their lives.”

Sidell adds that in a healthy relationship, parenting is a great balancing act. Although parents create stability and set limits and guidelines to keep children safe, they also to need to make sure that their child is seen, heard, and understood by actively listening, acknowledging his/her feelings,  and observing verbal and non-verbal behavior.

That’s why self-reflection is so critical to parenting with intent. In Parenting for Life, Sidell holds parents accountable for  scrutinizing their own history, conditioning, and emotional and intellectual perspectives as they work through assignments contained in every chapter to determine their parenting style and purpose .

“We get stuck as parents in the same places that our children are stuck: it is not our children’s fault. Many parents blame their children for their own deficits,” explains Sidell.

If a parent overreacts or feels disconnected to a situation it is important to tap into her own response and ask: ‘Why is this happening?’

Plant the Seeds

Children are valued for who they are—not for their achievements or goals.

Each stage of a child’s development is met with empathy, unconditional love, and respect.

 

“Love is felt, shared, expressed by the parent no matter what the child has done. Respect is when children’s boundaries, experiences, opinions, and perceptions are valued,” says this child-rights advocate.

 

Respecting boundaries could be as simple as heeding your teen’s request  not  to hug him in front of his peers.

 

Also, Sidell feels that if parents go through their child’s boundaries that they should listen to the feedback, acknowledge the transgression, and learn from it.

 

Tend the Garden

Each stage lays the foundation for  child development. “Frankly, I tend to almost cringe when I hear parents say: ‘ Oh, this is the best stage’ or ‘Oh, I miss that stage.’ When parents get that they are progressing and evolving as their child is progressing and evolving, that’s the formula,” says Sidell, the key for creating healthy relationships.

Cultivate New Gardens

The title “Parenting for Life” explains Sidell has a double meaning. “With young children you are making sure that they have the sustenance that they need and psychological nurturing to keep them alive to help them flourish. The second part of the meaning is that you are parenting someone for their lifetime. Simply put you raise your children to leave you. You are consciously creating your lifetime relationship.”

Be aware that parents are role models for their children. Her message is: “Right now in the moment be cognizant that you are creating your future together and what you are doing today will impact their future relationships.”

Originally published in About Her Magazine

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Published by Lynda Art