A therapist has revealed the 10 parenting tips she swears by to create a “secure” parent-child relationship.
Jessica MacNair, 41, of Arlington County, Virginia, a licensed therapist with more than 20 years of experience, said parents should ask permission before hugging their child, never use food as a reward, and never comment on body types.
The mum of two, who posts on TikTok, said she is following the advice with her own sons, ages 10 and 13, and hopes other parents will find the tips helpful.
However, the tips proved divisive among viewers, with some arguing that they went “too far”.
Jessica MacNair has shared her parenting advice on TikTok and has faced a split of opinion – but many parents agree with what she’s saying
Jessica MacNair’s best tips for healthy parenting
1. Ask your children for permission if you want to give them a hug
2. Never discuss finances in front of them
3. Do not judge your children on their sexuality, gender or feelings about sexuality
4. Don’t comment on your child’s body shape
5. Teach them NOT to automatically trust authority figures, respect must be earned
6. Don’t use fear as a motivational tool
7. Don’t judge your kids by their school results
8. Don’t use food as a punishment or reward
9. Do not compare your children and do not expect one child to act like their brother or sister.
10. Kids can express any emotion they want, big or small and don’t judge them for how they choose to express themselves
Jessica explained that it’s important to develop a “secure” relationship with a child and create a “secure attachment style” that can help prevent problems down the road.
“Applying these from an early age will make a child feel safe and a lot of traumatic things can be prevented,” she says.
“Many reasons adults come to therapy is because parents haven’t created this safe space for their child and the trust isn’t there.
She explained that having a secure attachment to a parent in childhood can lead to things like addiction, broken relationships, and problems keeping jobs.
She went on to say that modeling good, safe habits and behaviors is one way to prevent these things from happening in adulthood.
“You shouldn’t talk about personal finances in front of them, never compare them to other kids, or use food as punishment or reward,” Jessica said.
“You shouldn’t judge children by their gender, sexuality, their feelings or how they express them, their grades in school, or use fear as a motivational tool.”
Finally, she controversially advised that parents should “never learn to trust authority figures.”
Jessica said, “It’s about not blindly following authority. My generation was taught to do that, but Gen Z would do well to push back.
“People should pay attention to what they hear, and if it doesn’t sound right, don’t trust the person alone.
The mother of two, from Arlington County, Virginia, USA, shared her list of things she would never do to her children thanks to her experience and expertise. People flocked to share their thoughts on the list after she shared her explainer videos on TikTok — even begging her to share five more.
What is Secure Attachment?
Secure attachment is one of several attachment styles a child can have – usually forged in their developmental years.
The term was first coined by psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth when they studied children’s reactions when their parents were at work or in the hospital.
Mary Ainsworth developed the theory known as attachment theory after a series of tests on children who showed their reaction when a parent left the room.
A secure attachment is when a child shows some fear when his primary caregiver leaves, but is able to calm himself quite quickly and is happy when the caregiver returns.
Children with secure attachments feel protected by their caregiver and know they will return if left behind.
‘Everyone doesn’t know everything. Your teacher may do his best, but he may not know everything.
“It depends on the situation, but always ask the premise – should you trust that particular person on that particular question?
“It goes back to the basics of, if someone comes in a van and says ‘get in’, don’t trust them just because they’re an adult.
“Look at the situation and what they are trying to achieve.”
A TikTok user discussed her “hug” advice: “Asking for permission to hug your own children is personally excessive to me.”
Another added: ‘I’ve been asking for permission to give hugs for decades. Had relatives on the spectrum and knew they would get scared if I didn’t ask first.”
Jessica explained her advice: “If they want to stand up for themselves and grow up, they need to learn to give consent.
“That modeling from a young age is important, the older gene didn’t have that, so they don’t realize you can say no.
“They say yes more often than not, and that makes more sense.
“It can feel like an insulting rejection, but I always remember they don’t owe you anything, and they need to be able to stand up for themselves, even if that’s not what you want.”
Jessica added: “They don’t have to follow me or agree with me, but some of the points I made are things I wish I had known before having kids.
“I hope some people can get something out of the videos.”