John Cowan - The Basics

Publish Date
Thursday, 27 July 2017, 12:38PM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

By John Cowan

Gidday, I’m John Cowan from the Parenting Place

One thing that is very apparent after more than twenty years of parent education: there are lots of right ways to bring up kids. I have known families who have done things completely different from how I would done things and yet their kids seen very happy and well adjusted.  There are just a few basics that I reckon are essential, and if you get them covered off then I think you can freestyle the rest and things will be just fine.

Let’s get it down to two basics: If your kids feel loved and feel safe, I think you have already got a pass mark as a parent. And since feeling safe usually come from feeling loved you could say that there is only one parenting basic: making sure a child feels loved. But I think that I’ll keep the safety thing in as a basic as well, as there are parents who love their kids to bits but allow too much chaos and conflict in their home life for kids to thrive.

By the way, please note that I didn’t say “loving you kids” was the basic, I  said the basic is that kids ‘feel’ loved. Probably every parent loves their children but things get in the way and the child doesn’t actually feel that love. Maybe it is anger, or discipline that is too harsh that gets in the way. Maybe it is too much busyness in the home; maybe the parent isn’t able to be with the child. Learning new and better ways to show love to your children should be a top task for parents.

But I don’t want to over emphasize the negatives – I want you to get the positive message that despite the thousands of parenting books and websites that give good advice, the basics of parenting are simple. If you get love and safety right, it’s amazing how much else you can get wrong and your kids will still have great childhood.

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About John

John has been with The Parenting Place ( for seventeen years as their senior writer and presenter.  He had various roles working with youth and families prior to that but actually started his working life as a scientist in neurophysiology at Auckland Hospital.  As well as writing and speaking, John is frequently on radio and television.

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