Tasks of Parenting

 This quote is from the Family Therapy opening reflections, which are drawn from Ray Anderson and Dennis Guernsey’s book. In chapter six they discuss the tasks of parenting, and they identify five:

The first task of the parent is the task of attachment. Because the human infant is absolutely dependent, the role of care-giver is primary….

The second task of parenting is the task of differentiation. Very early in the first year the infant begins to realize that he or she is not joined to the mother….

The third task is the task of separation and individuation Healthy parents raise their children not to need them….

The fourth task of parenting is the task of establishing constancy. This task is predicated upon the successful completion of the first three. It has to do with the final outfitting of the self in the child so that it is able to tolerate the natural ambivalences of relationships and the ambiguities of life….

The fifth task of parenting is the task of generalization. During this time the child recognizes its interdependence upon others. This is when the position of the self becomes “I/thou.” It is the position of the prodigal son returning to his father. It is the dialogue between the self and the other in which the person declares “I am responsible to and for you as well as for myself.” It is the position of emerging community; of mutual interdependence – the position in which the “one another” imperatives of the New Testament become relevant. It is the position in which the law of Christ is being fulfilled. 

from Ray S. Anderson & Dennis B. Guernsey (1985). On being family: A social theology of the family (pp. 79-81). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

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