You probably haven’t heard of reflective parenting because it’s different than most traditional parenting philosophies and techniques. However, parents who have begun to utilize a reflective parenting style have found that their relationship with their teen has grown stronger.
Reflective parenting aims to keep the relationship at the center of parent-teen interactions. The theory’s main premise is that an infant must develop a strong bond with at least one primary caregiver in order to appropriately develop socially and emotionally. As children develop they will begin to use the relationship with one or both of their parents as a secure base from which they will move away to explore their environment and their world. When teens have this secure base they are more likely to feel confident, resilient, successful, and independent.
The Center for Reflective Parenting, located in Los Angeles, is an organization that uses this important psychological theory as its foundation. The Center recognizes the importance of the attachment between parent and child and so aims to improve that attachment by providing “an opportunity for parents to engage in an experiential learning process specifically aimed to enhance reflection and improve the attachment between parent and child”.
When teens feel like they can trust their environment, when they feel safe enough to explore the parameters of that environment, it lends to self-confidence, empowerment, and inner strength, as mentioned above. And these are psychological skills necessary for a teen to become a well-adjusted, psychologically healthy adult.
According to the Center for Reflective Parenting, one of the ways that parents can facilitate a secure attachment with their teens is through the use of reflective thinking. This is a significant communication tool that is at the core of healthy relationships.
Research indicates that children whose parents are reflective, meaning that they recognize there is more going on inside a person than simply what is seen, are happier, more successful, and more resilient.
The Center believes that parents who are reflective have the ability to recognize what’s necessary to create a stable family environment so that their adolescent can grow psychologically, socially, and emotionally.
Furthermore, the Center emphasizes reflective parenting because they believe that too often parents are quick to jump to conclusions about the way that their teen is behaving. Instead, through reflection, patience, and compassion, parents can better appreciate and understand themselves and their tendency to jump to conclusion as well as the truth behind what the adolescent might be communicating. In this way, the relationship and thus the attachment between parent and teen strengthens. And it is a relationship that is based on presence, truth, and authenticity.
If you are a parent who wants to strengthen your relationship with your teen, perhaps utilizing reflective parenting techniques might be useful. You can begin by reading more about Reflective Parenting and Reflective Parenting on the website for the Center for Reflecting Parenting in Los Angeles. Or you might even consider visiting the Center, or participating in some of their groups.
When relationships are strengthened, your teen is likely to feel more secure, confident, and resilient.