Psychologist as Parent

By: Dr. Neil Stafford Posted On Oct 15, 2016

Some would think being a psychologist would give you the advantage in the parenting world. It would be reasonable to assume the psychologist knows more about human development, reinforcement strategies, the importance of attachment with a parent, and positive negotiation strategies. We do know these things. We are trained to use them. We educate parents in our offices everyday about how to do them better. Yet, it doesn't always translate when we try to put them into play ourselves. After all, we are human beings with limitations.

What I've learned about myself being a parent is amazing. For as much as I thought I could be selfless I realized I am selfish. There are many times I realize I am engaging in behavior patterns towards my children that I teach parents in my office not to do. How can this be? Of all people, I know better. I ask myself, how is a psychologist making such poor choices when it comes to disciplining, negotiating, and just talking to his child? The answer is what I said just above. I am a human being with limitations. 

It doesn't matter what we know. It matters who we are. In the great book Freakonomics by Dubner and Levitt they make the statement most people don't gain much from reading all of the popular parenting books. Their parenting styles are set already through their own development. The mere fact they bought parenting books suggests they care about being a good parent. If you care then you are more likely to be one. 

Why do I say all of this about myself? I say it because many people assume I know more about parenting than they do because of my education. This is not necessarily true. Becoming a good parent doesn't require graduate school and postdoctoral training. It requires you to be a good person, to be selfless, to make the focus of what you do the little person in your home. I am working on it. You can too. Join me here in my blog posts as we will discuss some ways to improve our parenting, our care of our self, and the exploration of many things to improve our place in the world.

TAGS: Adolescent Psychotherapy, Child psychotherapy, Adjustment to Parenthood, Parenting, Clinical Child Psychology
About the Author
Dr. Stafford is a clinical psychologist with 11 years experience. His primary experience is with children and families in private practice, and 10 years in the Avondale Elementary School District. Dr. Stafford has earned certification in school psychology, and is the training director for an internship program for school psychologist. Beyond these activities, Dr. Stafford works with adults in his private practice on a broad range of issues including depression and anxiety. He also has interests in the integration of faith and psychology as well as the development of the individual through interpersonal neurobiology.

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