Good Parenting is possibly the goal most of us who have children strive for, and few of us achieve. Winnicott’s phrase ‘a good enough mother’ has passed into our vocabulary and is mentioned more than once in this issue. And yet how can we be ‘good enough’? Parents can feel buffetted by the advice contained in ever increasing numbers of books. Is behaviour modification the answer? Did Freud get it right? Who is to be the latest guru who will tell us what to do? And then, interestingly, along comes a reprint of a book by Rudolf Dreikurs published in 1964 and reviewed in this issue, which is very much a book for our times. He comments on increasing parental despair as children appear to be more dissatisfied, bored and unhappy than ever before, and harder to discipline. He then urges parents to use more democratic methods in raising their children and to gain a greater understanding of the power struggles which he believes underlie most children’s behaviour. Add to this his belief in the elimination of the system of rewards and punishments believing it to imply that children are in some way inferior, and you have plenty of scope for spirited controversy.
There is no doubt that parenting needs to be addressed. We have a high illiteracy rate, children are dropping out of school, becoming violent and aggressive towards their parents and teachers and there has been an alarming rise in the numbers of young people admitted to psychiatric hospitals with psychotic breakdowns. A recent newspaper article described children sitting in front of state-of-the art televisions in houses where there was no food, watching violent and pornographic videos hour by hour – a phenomenon known as serial viewing.
Counsellers and psychotherapists will be well aware of the need for many more support services for teenagers and their parents, particularly parenting groups. Since children are a nation’s greatest asset, we owe it to them to give them a sense of confidence in themselves so that they can establish relationships with others. As Bruno Bettelheim has said: “The security of the parent about being a parent will eventually become the source of the child’s feeling secure about himself or herself.”
Our next issue will be concerned with the entire field and discipline of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy. We have chosen this topic to mark the twenty-fifth issue of Inside Out and hope to make it a celebration of the endeavour, optimism and support which has sustained the journal over this period. As always, we welcome your contributions, comments and letters.