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Catholic Vancouver May 28, 2018

Parents, stop doubting yourself: family counsellor

By Chandra Philip

Parents need to trust in their abilities and stop Googling so much, says Dr. Deborah MacNamara, a family counsellor. (Chandra Philip photo)

Special to The B.C. Catholic

It is time for parents to grow up and have confidence in their abilities, a family counsellor told moms and dads during a presentation at St. Ann’s parish in Abbotsford.

Dr. Deborah MacNamara used humour and her training from the Neufeld Institute to help the crowd see the truths about their journey as parents.

“The best therapy you can ever do is to have children in the sense that they will make you aware of all your immaturity very quickly,” she quipped.

MacNamara, who has written a book on the topic called Rest, Pray, Grow, discussed attachment theory that is the basis of the Neufeld Institute. The child development psychology theory looks at how to work towards maturation, which is something that Dr. MacNamara said cannot be commanded.

“There is a design here,” she explained. “The more you force it the more you mess it up.”

She explained that there was an emotional process to growing up.

“We are all meant to grow up.”

However, MacNamara noted, these days too many parents lack confidence.

“We question. We Google too much. We ask. It is like being on a game show, 'I am going to call a friend on this one.’

“This is not what parenting is about. Sometimes you have to stand in an uncomfortable place where you have a few minutes and you have to make a decision.”

MacNamara said parents need to trust their ability to rise to the challenge.

“No one ever felt confident in a parent who has to search to somebody else for the answer.

“Parenting is an opportunity to find out who you are,” she said. “You will be full of doubt but that is our journey as well.”

She said that while books can help they can't be the answer. Instead, people need to give themselves over to parenting and accept that it will be difficult.

“The only way to grow here is to give your children unconditional invitation to exist in your presence,” MacNamara said.

“It is our love for our children that makes us grow up.”

She warned parents not to make kids work for love.

“If we put these conditions on our relationship what is going to happen is our children can't rest in our care,” she explained.

“If your children have to be the one to change in order to be loved by you then they are not actually growing, and neither are you.”

MacNamara offered a final piece of advice for attendees who asked what to do when things got difficult.

“All the times it is going well there is no growth there. It is when it is hard that there is growth.”

MacNamara is part of the faculty at the Neufeld Institute in Vancouver. She is also a practising Catholic and mother of two girls.