Zen Parenting: Hand-holding at the Dentist? (ZPR #725)

ZPR Blog, Weekly Podcast, Zen Parenting

Hey Zen-seekers and parents! If you’re like me—a dad who’s always tuned into Zen Parenting Radio—you’re going to appreciate the wisdom Cathy and Todd bring to an everyday parenting scenario: going to the dentist with your child. Trust me, their discussion has given me a lot to chew on (pun intended)!

I’m back this time with a reflection on a story Cathy shared with us during the latest Zen Parenting Radio podcast episode –  Highly Sensitive People (ZPR#725).  This story, about an experience she had with a Dentist and his rule restricting parents from being in the room for procedures, resonated with me as a parent who frequently faces dilemmas around when to follow rules; keep your word despite changing circumstances; and when to and when not to help your child face adversity and build resilience.  I think all of you will be able to relate to this in some way and take away something that will help you with your parenting and pursuit of personal growth.

The Segment: “Hand-Holding at the Dentist?”

The segment opens with Cathy recounting a personal experience involving her daughter’s first cavity filling. Cathy promises to hold her daughter’s hand during the procedure, only to find out that the dentist has a “no parents allowed” rule. Todd and Cathy proceed to dive into the complexities of this rule, the promises we make to our children, and the balance between providing support and fostering independence.

The Dentist’s Rule vs. A Parent’s Promise

Cathy reveals that she defied the dentist’s rule, insisting that she would sit on the floor if needed just to hold her daughter’s hand. Todd admits that he sometimes struggles with the idea of breaking such rules, worrying that it might prevent their children from learning resilience. Cathy’s perspective? That promise to her daughter outweighed any dentist’s rule.

The Resilience Debate

The conversation pivots to an intriguing point about resilience. Todd questions whether breaking rules to support our kids might prevent them from learning how to handle challenging situations on their own. Cathy counters this by highlighting the numerous challenges kids already face daily, like school, peer interaction, and even just riding the bus. These experiences alone provide plenty of opportunities for learning resilience.

Trust and Secure Attachment

Cathy goes on to discuss the concept of ‘secure attachment,’ stating that the more children trust their parents, the more confident they become in venturing into the world on their own. Her argument is that fulfilling a promise to be there for your child in a potentially traumatic situation—like a first-time dental procedure—can reinforce that trust and secure attachment.

When to Hold Hands and When to Let Go

The crux of this segment lies in the balance between holding your child’s hand and letting them experience life’s challenges. Cathy believes that parents don’t need to artificially create difficult scenarios for their children. Life will do that on its own. What parents should focus on is being a secure base their children can return to, reinforcing their confidence to face the world.

Final Thoughts

As a dad, this segment has been eye-opening. The nuanced discussion between Cathy and Todd has given me a fresh perspective on how to approach situations that might seem trivial but are monumental in the eyes of a child. The more we understand our children and their needs, the better we can support them in becoming resilient, confident individuals.

So the next time you find yourself in a similar dilemma, remember that sometimes breaking the rules might be the best way to keep a promise to your child.

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