I am Ready to take care of my twins. The young Mother who gave birth at 16 Vowed.

I am A social Worker, no daubt about that, i am Author, i am working with young mother, I would like their stories to be heard and their faces to be seen: to portray teen mothers in their living and working environments, collect their testimonies and show the consequences of early pregnancy.

During interview with the young mother, she expressed her life story.

And the moment that I have been anticipating for days, months, and years even has come. I took a deep breath and pushed down my baby with own power while I followed my body. Before my breath finished, my first baby came sliding out of me and the next follows. While I exhaled, I quietly said that they are born. They put my twin into my arms even before cutting their umbilical cord. They were warm, wet, soft, and smelled sweet. They screamed joyfully, and I thanked them repeatedly for giving me this wonderful experience. The doctors and nurses were looking on at that remarkable moment when our twin joined my family, confused, happy, and teary eyed. They stared at us with questioning expressions because they had just watched a birth so vastly different from the fearful births they had witnessed in the past—fearfulness that resulted from the negative birth stories that have been handed down to women for years especially women who passed through difficult life and have eroded their confidence and power regarding birth. How had it come to this?

In the beginning of 2017, my father died, following the mother, who was deceased before, the elder sisters suggested that everyone was to start living on his or her own. Being the last born at the age of 18, I decided to come to kampala to look for some work to do. Later got a job as a maid; I only managed to work for few months since I was always suffering from a severe headache and brutality from my bosses. Later I went back to village where I met a man aged 23 who promised to take good care of me. I came to town with a man and lived together for one week. Later, I went to look for another job. After some few weeks i realized that, I missed my periods that I am pregnant, I went back to a man’s place to tell him about the news. The man denied the pregnancy and told me never to come back looking for him.

By that time, no jobs, and lost focus and hope, I started living on streets and in churches. I went to the village. Elder sisters got mad about the pregnancy and they advised to abort. I resisted, not killing the innocent baby, I was chased away from home,I felt that everything was over, no hope, no money, and no any assistance.

I went back to Kampala but no where to stay, I started living in churches like Christian life church of pastor Jackson Ssenyonga in Bwaise, and Miracle center cathedral of Pastor Robert Kayanja Lubaga where I was receiving some help from the volunteers.

So, the matter worsens, she went back to streets, sleeping on verandas, and tree shades for couple of weeks, she met a woman called Musawo Jane in Bwaise, she gave her tea and what to eat, she told a bodaboda rider to take her to Lubaga miracle center cathedral of Pastor Robert Kayanja, she spent their 2 weeks since they was still chased because it is prohibited to deliver from church, she went again back on streets.

I walked with my baby inside right from Lubaga heading where I don’t know, sometimes the sunshine and heavy rain barely hit, stopped on the church called worship house of pastor Wilson Bugembe, slept there one day, and heading to a health center called Kawempe Mulago where she stayed 5 days getting medicine and other post natal care for free, because I explained my story to doctor, he was touched and decided to help me for free. From there, I continued the Journey, walking while sleeping on people’s retail shops, petrol stations, verandas, and streets; I went back to Christian life church.

Forty weeks and 5 days into the pregnancy, my Twins and I were still together. In life I don’t wished anyone to live in, I felt their movements less now—they were smaller than they had been but stronger. My friends on streets, in churches, at least 20 people checking on me every day where I used to sleep on cement to ask when I will give birth and scaring me by saying things like, “What if something’s wrong with the baby?” no one among my brothers and sisters wanted to know about my life, My mother and Father up in the sky/heaven may be were watching and praying for me, and waiting impatiently for their first grandson, constantly saying, “It’s high time the baby made an appearance.” Because they used to say that when they are still alive, they loved me so much. I became so fed up, especially in the last 10 days of my pregnancy. I suggested to the close friends-to-be that they not tell anyone the approximate birth date to avoid similar experiences.

I made myself believe that my Twins would be born in the night, having heard somewhere that animals that sleep in the daytime birth in the night and vice versa (which seemed to show that privacy and protection are important in nature.) In the weeks and days leading up to my due date, I tried my best to go to sleep in people’s houses, or people’s veranders early every day so as not to be tired when I finally went into labor. I would fall asleep rubbing my abdomen and thinking, “Maybe I’ll smell you tonight babies.” But when morning came, I would wake to find my babies was still saying, “Good morning, mommy!” from my womb.

It was another such morning when I went to the toilet of one of good Samaritan and saw the first thrilling sign that the birth was finally going to happen. I had to go to nearby church to pray, There came a lady dressed well, totally in the same age group, she was from Pelletier teenage mothers foundation (PTMOF) it was the first sign that Miracle exists, and God is always there for the poor, she told me about the services they are offering, at first I was in fear of strangers but finally I trusted her since we met at the church.

She leads me to where she stay, I found older woman at home, to find that she was the mother of that lady I met, but I told them everything I passed through, then, after, they tried to link me to my older brothers and sisters who chased me, but all in vain, in the end, they sent me back to my Sister Called Namatovu Zaina to first deliver, then I will come back to acquire skills. Since the organization don’t accommodate mothers due to its little facilities.

Reaching to My Sisters home, Waves from my other sisters and brothers ordering my sister to chase me from her home, because I was pregnant at young age. Looking to the situation, at home, I developed feelings to escape from my sister’s home to go back to street. On the street, the contractions became more frequent. I put my hand on my abdomen and could feel uterine contractions, but they were not bothering me at all.

At around 2:00 a.m., I put my hand on my abdomen. Because of the stories of labor pains that I still had in my mind, however, I didn’t think they could be birth contractions. I went to church of Pastor Jackson Ssenyonaga.

While at the church, I suddenly felt nauseous and vomited I could sense an amazing cocktail of hormones flowing through my body. I had never felt so happy, energetic, and motivated. These were the last moments of my babies inside me, and I was enjoying it! I went to Mulago hospital. The on-duty doctor put a hand on my abdomen and said, “The contractions are severe. I think I should examine you.” I lay on the examination couch and he made a vaginal examination. The doctor told me that they are Twins! I said what!?

This is exactly what happened in my birth. Overcome by a sensation like the thrill you get at the moment you parachute off a mountainside and shout out with joy at the top of your voice, I screamed uncontrollably.

Realizing that the doctor, Mrs Alice from PTMOF was already in the house and the nurse were all staring at me in amazement, I told them, “Everything’s okay, don’t worry. There is no pain, just a sudden adrenaline rush. I settled myself back onto the bed and felt the urge to push. My body position was as straight as possible. I took a deep breath and pushed my first baby downward with all my power. “Push slowly,” my birth doctor warned me. “The baby’s coming too fast. After few minutes, I pushed the second baby! Doctor told me! Again “Push slowly,” I’ll have to do an episiotomy.” But I just could not slow myself down. In my terms, it was a natural birth throughout.

I was in a state of shock after the delivery, unable to believe my Twins was now in my arms. It was 3:15 a.m. Just 25 minutes had passed since I had gone into the delivery room. The birth was not the way some people had described it. It was totally painless, joyful, exciting, and quick. My Twins was so good, Looking healthy. At first, They greeted the world with loud screams, presumably because of the effects of the hormone cocktail, but they calmed down after they was cradled in my arms and heard me say, “Welcome, my Twins. I have been waiting for you for so long. I love you so much, do not cry.” They began looking around curiously with their eyes wide open. One named Wasswa Miracle and the other named Kato Favour.

From hospital, I came with Madam Alice at the centre, where I was given a room to look after my little young ones, as well as learning hairdressing to be equipped with skills. It is now a year living at Pelletier teenage mothers foundation, my twin’s looks very heathy and energetic, I am glad to be part of my new family.
I am thankfu for all the support. May God bless you!

After told me the story I Asked about her dreams, she mentions two things: she would love to raise her twins well, and be able one day to return to school. She cannot afford either.

Unfortunately every year the same tragedy touches thousands of Ugandan girls: 39% of women in Uganda under the age of 19 have already had a child or are pregnant. Most pregnancies are the result of rape or other sexual abuses, including survival sex. The consequences are extremely serious: school drop-outs, mental health problems, family and social rejection, forced marriage, domestic violence, increased poverty and children sent away as restavecs (a modern type of slavery). The impact is also considerable on the well-being and functioning of society as a whole.

Some time ago I started meeting women, young girls and older women, who became mothers much too early. I wanted to listen to their life stories and look into their eyes, which often say more than words.
These women are one of the reasons I came to Nansana Uganda and joined the mission. Being aware of the daily struggles of Ugandans is very important and motivational for my work.

I would like their stories to be heard and their faces to be seen by others as well, which is why I started the “My GIHAPOAF” project. The objective is to portray teen mothers in their living and working environments, collect their testimonies and show the consequences of early pregnancy.
I also ask women about their dreams. “These are usually very ‘ordinary’: return to school, have the family together, find a job, ensure a better future for their kids, stop being abused, be happy.”
I truly believe that we should, and can, strive to make these ‘ordinary’ dreams come true.

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The first best way to understand Parenting is by Understanding your child development stages.

Welcome, Lets look into the content of the book “Make Me understand, Family, Parenting and Health.

CHAPTER ONE-

This first edition of the book of Parenting and health appears at a time that is momentous in the history of parenting. The family generally, and parenting specifically, are today in a greater state efflux, question, and redefinition than perhaps ever before. We are witnessing the emergence of striking permutations on the theme of parenting: blended families, teen versus Fifties first-time moms and dads. One cannot but be awed on the biological front by technology that now renders postmenopausal women capable of childbearing and with the possibility of designing babies. Similarly, on the sociological front, single parenthood is a modern-day fact of life, adult–child dependency is on the rise, and parents are ever less certain of their roles, even in the face of rising environmental and institutional demands that they take increasing responsibility for their offspring.

The book of Parenting is concerned with all facets of parenting. Despite the fact that most people become parents and everyone who has ever lived has had parents, parenting remains a most mystifying subject. Who is ultimately responsible for parenting? Does parenting come naturally, or must we learn how to parent? How do parents conceive of parenting?

What do theories in psychology (psychosexual stages of Sigmund Freud, psychosocial stages of Erik Erikson, moral understanding theory of Lawrence Kohlberg, Jean Piaget’s cognitive development stage theory, and Urie Bronfenbrenner ecological system theory for example) contribute to our understanding of parenting? What should parents do with each stage? For their children?

These are some of the questions and many more addressed in this first edition of the Handbook of parenting… for this is a book on how to parents much as it is one on what being a parent is all about.
Put succinctly, parents create people. It is the entrusted and abiding task of parents to prepare their offspring for the physical, psychosocial, and economic conditions in which they will eventu-ally fare and, it is hoped, flourish. Amidst the many influences on child development, parents are the “final common pathway “to children’s development and stature, adjustment and success.

BRIEFLY;
This book is divided into five parts, First consists of only one Chapter,( I) Child development theories, and Birth story from a Teen Mother, Second Part has Three Chapters, (II,III,IV) Infant development, Infant parenting & Infant safety, Third Part has Five Chapters, (V,VI,VII,VIII,IX) Development during Early Childhood, Parenting toddler, Early childhood Toilet Training, Discipling your Toddler & Nurturing your Toddler. Fourth Part has Three Chapters (X,XI,XII) Nurturing your middle childhood, Middle childhood safety & education, Middle childhood Discipline and guidance. Last Fifth Part has Three chapters, (XIII, XIV) Adolescence development theory and Children & internet addiction.

OVER VIEW

The goals of this part is to discuss what is known about how children develop from birth through adolescence, and to offer tips on how to use this developmental knowledge to improve parenting skills. In this part you will survey what is known about how children develop between birth and age 24 months, a period known as infancy.
Children develop in many different ways at the same time. Different aspects of children’s development are never at rest or waiting for other parts to catch up.

Instead, development is simultaneous. While physical growth and maturity are the most obvious signs that development is occurring, children also develop cognitively (mentally), socially, emotionally, and sexually. This part is organized so that each type of development is described separately and nothing important is left out.

The milestones of development are discussed in terms of easy to understand measurements such as weight, height, or the presence or absence of reflexes. However, not all important aspects of development can be easily measured. Mental and emotional development is difficult to measure directly. This part describes the best available theories to understand what is occurring inside each child’s head.

The works of five theorists work are considered in the course of this book: Freud, Erikson, Kohlberg, Piaget, and Bronfenbrenner. Among these theorists, the works of Piaget and Erikson speak most directly to the infancy period of life covered here. Infancy corresponds to Piaget’s “Sensorimotor” stage of cognitive development, and to two of Erikson’s stages; the “trust vs. mistrust” stage during the first year of life, and the “autonomy vs. shame and doubt” stage that follows closely after. Piaget’s work describes how infants come to understand their world through their bodies and senses. Erikson’s work describes how children develop an appreciation of both their individuality and simultaneous dependency on others, and how children’s attitudes towards themselves and others are influenced by their experiences and by the type of support and nurturing they receive.

Development is often described by referring to particular developmental milestones that are significant achievements of one sort or another such as crawling, walking, or first words. Developmental milestones are presented as occurring at particular ages. Even though developmental milestones do commonly occur at particular ages, children develop at their own pace.

Introduction;

This chapter provides a review of theories of child development.
When babies arrive in the world, they are tiny, helpless people who depend entirely on adults to take care of all their needs and wants. Somehow, with the proper loving nurturing and care over the next 22 years, they grow to become independent adults who can take care of themselves and others. The journey from infancy to adulthood is an amazing time when children soak up everything in the world around them and mix it with the qualities they are born with in order to mature bit by bit, in every way.

Over the years, people who study children have created theories to explain how children develop. While these theorists realize that every child is special and grow in his or her unique way, they also have recognized that there are general patterns children tend t0 follow as they grow up, and they have documented these patterns in their theories. This chapter will cover child developmental theory and applications such as parenting skills, will attempt to explain these fascinating but detailed theories so as to make them more understandable. Specifically, this chapter will outline the various areas, or channels, of child development that have been recognized, to explain how children tend to develop through each of these channels over time, and to state in simple language the observations of the child development field’s most important theorists.

Developmental channels and Theories of development
First, it is important to understand that children have to grow and develop in many different areas in order to become healthy, happy, productive members of adult society. There are four main areas or channels in which children grow: physical, psychological and cognitive, social and emotional, and sexuality and gender identity.

First, the physical channel is most obvious. Children’s bodies grow in height and weight over the years and change appearance during puberty. Children also develop certain physical abilities during their progression towards adulthood, including crawling, walking, running and (possibly) writing or kicking a ball.

Secondly, children also develop psychologically and cognitively as their brains absorb more information and they learn how to use that information.
Literally, children have to learn how to think on purpose and to process or organize all the information that comes to them from the environment. They must learn how to solve problems, to talk, and to complete mental tasks such as remembering telephone numbers or using computers.

Thirdly, children grow socially and emotionally. They learn how to interact, play, work, and live with other people such as family, friends, teachers, and employers. They learn how to understand both their own feelings and others’ emotions. They also learn ways of dealing with strong emotions. In order to function well as independent adults, children must develop a sense of self-esteem as they go through the long process of figuring out what shape their identity, or who they are, will take. They develop a sense of morality as they learn the difference between right and wrong.

Finally, children have to develop sexually and form a gender identity. This developmental channel is unique because it spans developments across the other physical, psychological, and social channels. Early on, children learn how their bodies work and look and what it means to be a boy or a girl; they learn how boys and girls are different. As they grow older and enter adolescence and puberty, they continue to learn how their bodies work sexually and how to responsibly handle their sexuality so as to balance their sexual desires and appropriate behavior. They continue to decide for themselves what it means to be masculine or feminine throughout their lifespan.

DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES MILESTONES OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT

Child Development Stages vs. Continuous Development
Different theorists have come to different conclusions concerning how exactly children develop across the various developmental channels. Some theorists believe that children develop smoothly and continuously, but other theorists believe that children develop more discretely in a series of stages, each of which is fairly stable.

Theorists who believe children grow continuously believe that kids constantly add new lessons and skills on top of old lessons and skills as they get older. They believe that children grow at a steady, uniform speed. Even though parents can’t see it with their eyes, children are growing all the time right in front of them. Their bodies make new cells. Their minds learn new skills as they play and interact with other people every day.
On the other hand, theorists who believe children grow discontinuously believe children grow in stages as they seem to develop chunks of abilities and to experience events at certain times in life. To some parents, it may seem that their children learn to do things all of the sudden, like when a baby goes from only being able to crawl to being able to toddle around on two feet almost overnight. Or, parents of young teenagers may say that they were amazed how their children went from thinking that kids of the opposite sex had “cooties” to constantly daydreaming about them. It seems as if these kids are growing lots in spurts at special times and then are not growing so fast for a while in between the spurts.

Both camps, continuous development and staged development, are correct in its own way, of course. While it is true that development is a continuous process that never stops, it is also true that there are stages to growth and those developments unfold at predictable times across the life span. The real difference between the two camps is likely the degree of magnification that each applies to its study, with the stage theorists taking a more distant but broader stance and the continuous theorists viewing things from up close.

This chapter will present child development as though it happens in stages. By thinking about stages, child development can be summarized in general groupings that can be more easily understood.

Developmental Stages and Milestones of Child Development
Often, developmental stages are defined by milestones. A milestone is a sort of marker that tells you where you are while traveling. The term is drawn from literal stone markers that were used to mark the passage of each mile on early roads. Today, the term milestone is used more figuratively, to indicate that a developmental stage has been achieved. Often, special milestones mark children’s accomplishments, such as walking in infancy and entering school in early childhood, and these milestones can help Mark children’s movement inside and between developmental stages.
Children build new skills and developments on top of old skills and developments from stage to stage; each stage is cumulative. A child is able to run bases in a game of baseball in the middle childhood phase because she was first able to walk near the end of her infancy stage.

Entry and exit from the various developmental stages tends to occur at particular ages. Often, a child’s stage of development can be figured out by a child’s age because children generally experience the same stages at the same ages. However a child’s age only provides a clue as to his stage; it does not determine it. Every child develops at his or her own speed. It is the tasks and skills children master that truly identify what stage they are in. Because of this, different children of the same age can be expected to be at different developmental stages.

Children’s development does not happen uniformly, but rather, it progresses along at its own rate. Just because one child is potty trained at age three and his neighbor is potty trained at age three and a half does not mean that one is brighter than the other. Furthermore, children can develop the different channels at different rates. For example, a twelve-year-olds body may have already gone through puberty and look like adolescence’s body, but that child may not have the cognitive and social abilities of an adolescent quite yet. It will take a little longer for their mind to catch up with her body.

Keep this lack of developmental sameness in mind as you read the chapter in this book. Whenever a document suggests ages that children reach specific milestones, keep in mind that these are general average ages that research has found children develop these skills. In reality, children reach milestones across a wide range of ages. Sometimes children will appear to even skip an entire developmental stage in some channels as they advance quickly in a short amount of time.

Also keep in mind that there are some situations in which children become severely inhibited and unable to reach certain milestones within an acceptable time frame. Developmental delays in a child’s functioning caused by disease, injury, mental disability, problems developing in the womb, environmental reasons, trauma or unknown causes can keep some children from developing properly or can even cause children to regress and go backward into some stages in some channels.

Sensitive periods in child development
In order to understand how children move between stages, it’s important to understand how children take in stimuli from the environment and use it to grow. Most theorists agree that there are periods in children’s lives in which they become biologically mature enough to gain certain skills that they could not have easily picked up prior to that maturation. For example, research has shown that babies and toddlers’ brains are more flexible with regard to learning to understand and use language than are older children’s brains.

Children are ready and open to develop certain things during specific stages; however, it doesn’t just happen. Instead, they need proper environmental stimuli to develop these abilities. For example, babies have the ability to grow in length and weight in amazing amounts during the first year, but if they’re not fed and nurtured enough during that time, they will not have the tools and building blocks to grow and will not grow and thrive. This is why it’s so important for parents and caregivers to understand how their children are growing in all ways and channels and to know what stimuli, or stuff, they need to give their children to help them thrive.

From time to time children without any cognitive or physical problems at birth may not be able to develop certain milestones during the stage or time period they are most receptive. There may be an injury, illness, caregiver neglect or abuse, or a shortage of needs such as food or medical care, that make it difficult for a child to absorb all the basic building blocks and stimulation they need to gain certain abilities at certain times in life. When this occurs, affected children will generally have a harder time gaining those abilities even if they later get special attention and resources designed to help them compensate. It’s like children have a window of opportunity when they are ready to grow in certain ways if they have the right stuff and tools in their environment. When that window closes, it will never be as easy to grow in those ways again. Theorists disagree about how important it is for children to have those special stimuli at each growing stage in order to reach their milestones. Some theorists call these times critical periods, but other theorists call them sensitive periods.

The difference between critical periods and sensitive periods is subtle. Theorists who believe in critical periods believe that children who do not get special stimulation during their window of receptivity are going to be “stuck” forever and never gain the abilities they should have gained in that period. However, other theorists believe that those very sensitive times in a child’s life are just sensitive periods. They agree that children who do not get the right nurturing at the right times to jumpstart their developmental potential are going to have problems later in life, but they do not think that this inability to develop is permanent.

For example, infancy is the time when children first learn they can trust an adult or parent to take care of all their needs, keep them safe, and give them love. Some infants live in orphanages where there are far too many babies for the few nurses and staff members to take care of them. These children go through their first years with hardly any touch or affection that would teach them to trust and to show affection to caregivers. If these children are eventually adopted by a loving family later on in their childhood, they often have trouble adjusting to having an affectionate, loving parent. There have been many cases in which children who start out in that kind of orphanage environment never gain the ability to show affection and emotion toward family or even the ability to show remorse or compassion toward other people, no matter how loving and nurturing their adoptive family was being in their middle childhood and on. Such a child’s ability to trust and love would have essentially become “stuck” in infancy, even though the rest of their body continued to grow. The question of whether the critical period idea or the sensitive period idea is more correct boils down to whether this stuckness can be overcome, in full or in part, in the child’s later life.

Theorists who support sensitive periods believe that while it will be far more difficult for the child and the child’s teachers and caregivers to learn what was not learned during the window of opportunity, these children can still develop the missing capacities and skills later that they did not develop earlier. While some children do seem to get stuck permanently, there is evidence to support the sensitive period idea as well.

Some children born in the same understaffed orphanages who are later adopted do go on to learn to love, to trust, and to show affection to their family and friends. In these situations, the families have to have extreme patience and perseverance as they nurture these older children because they are not going to be able to learn that trust and love as fast and as easily as infants.

However, it’s also important to remember that critical or sensitive periods can also affect children in other ways than just neglect or deprivation. For example, there is a critical or sensitive period for language acquisition that occurs during infancy. Children begin learning how to understand and create language from the time they’re born. They will absorb and copy the language they hear all around them during that critical or sensitive period early in life. However, for many different reasons, children, and adults, may leave their original home and move to a new country or region where people speak a different language. They will need to learn to understand and create the new language, even though they were not exposed to it during that early important period. However, while it will take more time and special tutoring, many children, and adults, can learn a new language proficiently later in life. (Different parts of the brain are used for sensitive period learning, vs. later learning, but both can get the job done)

MAJOR CHILD DEVELOPMENT THEORIES AND THEORISTS
Though many scientists and researchers have approached the study of child development over the last hundred or so many years, only a few of the theories that have resulted have stood the test of time and have proven to be widely influential. Among this core group of theories are five that will serve as the basis for the documents in this book. These are:

  1. Freud’s psychosexual stage theory
  2. Erikson’s psychosocial stage theory
  3. Kohlberg’s moral understanding stage theory
  4. Piaget’s cognitive development stage theory
  5. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory

Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual stages of development theory

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was a Viennese doctor who came to believe that the way parents dealt with children’s basic sexual and aggressive desires would determine how their personalities developed and whether or not they would end up well-adjusted as adults. Freud described children as going through multiple stages of sexual development, which he labeled Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency, and Genital.
In Freud’s view, each stage focused on sexual activity and the pleasure received from a particular area of the body. In the oral phase, children are focused on the pleasures that they receive from sucking and biting with their mouth. In the Anal phase, this focus shifts to the anus as they begin toilet training and attempt to control their bowels. In the Phallic stage, the focus moves to genital stimulation and the sexual identification that comes with having or not having a penis.

During this phase, Freud thought that children turn their interest and love toward their parent of the opposite sex and begin to strongly resent the parent of the same sex. He called this idea the Oedipus complex as it closely mirrored the events of an ancient Greek tragic play in which a king named Oedipus manages to marry his mother and kill his father. The Phallic/Oedipus stage was thought to be followed by a period of Latency during which sexual urges and interest were temporarily nonexistent. Finally, children were thought to enter and remain in a final Genital stage in which adult sexual interests and activities come to dominate.

Another part of Freud’s theory focused on identifying the parts of consciousness. Freud thought that all babies are initially dominated by unconscious, instinctual and selfish urges for immediate gratification which he labeled the Id. As babies attempt and fail to get all their whims met, they develop a more realistic appreciation of what is realistic and possible, which Freud called the “Ego”. Over time, babies also learn about and come to internalize and represent their parents’ values and rules. These internalized rules, which he called the “Super-Ego”, are the basis for the developing child’s conscience that struggles with the concepts of right and wrong and works with the Ego to control the immediate gratification urges of the Id.

By today’s rigorous scientific standards, Freud’s psychosexual theory is not considered to be very accurate. However, it is still important and influential today because it was the first stage development theory that gained real attention, and many other theorists used it as a starting place.

Erik Erikson’s psychosocial stage theory

Erik Erikson (1902-1994) used Freud’s work as a starting place to develop a theory about human stage development from birth to death. In contrast to Freud’s focus on sexuality, Erikson focused on how peoples’ sense of identity develops; how people develop or fail to develop abilities and beliefs about themselves which allow them to become productive, satisfied members of society. Because Erikson’s theory combines how people develop beliefs psychologically and mentally with how they learn to exist within a larger community of people, it’s called a ‘psychosocial’ theory.

Erikson’s stages are, in chronological order in which they unfold: trust versus mistrust; autonomy versus shame and doubt; initiative versus guilt; industry versus inferiority; identity versus identity confusion; intimacy versus isolation; generativity versus stagnation; and integrity versus despair. Each stage is associated with a time of life and a general age span. For each stage, Erikson’s theory explains what types of stimulation children need to master that stage and become productive and well-adjusted members of society and explains the types of problems and developmental delays that can result when this stimulation does not occur.

For example, the first psychosocial stage is trust versus mistrust, and it spans from birth to about age one year. During this phase, if children are consistently provided all their basic needs such as food, clean diapers, warmth, and loving affection and soothing from caregivers, they will learn that they can trust other people in their environment to love them and to take care of them, and they will believe the world is good. If infants are neglected and not given these things consistently or if they are taken care of roughly and unpredictably, they will learn to question their caretakers and to believe that others will not always be there to support them when it’s needed.

Learning to trust others is the first necessary step to learning how to have loving, supportive relationships with others and to have a positive self-image.
The second stage, autonomy versus shame and doubt, spans ages one to three years. When children are autonomous, they feel confident that they can make their own choices and decisions and that they will be positive experiences. Young children become autonomous when caregivers are supportive and give children the safe space to make their own decisions and to experiment with their bodies and problem-solving skills without shaming or ridiculing the child. When children feel shame and doubt, they believe that they are not capable of making valid decisions and not capable of doing everyday tasks. This will begin stunting a positive self-esteem as these small children start seeing themselves as “stupid.”

The third stage, initiative versus guilt, spans ages three to six years. When children develop initiative, they continue to develop their self-concept and gain a desire to try new things and to learn new things while being responsible for their actions to some extent. If caregivers continue to give children a safe space to experiment and appropriate stimuli to learn, the children will continue to find their purpose. However, if caregivers try to create too many strict boundaries around what children can do and to force too much responsibility on kids, children will feel extreme guilt for their inability to complete tasks perfectly.
This is just a taste of Erickson’s ideas. Hopefully, these paragraphs will help explain his way of thinking and organizing development. The rest of Erikson’s stages will be outlined in detail in future documents in this book as they become age-related.

Lawrence Kohlberg’s moral understanding stage theory

Lawrence Kohlberg (1927-1987) described three stages of moral development which described the process through which people learn to discriminate right from wrong and to develop increasingly sophisticated appreciations of morality. He believed that his stages were cumulative; each built off understanding and abilities gained in prior stages. According to Kohlberg, moral development is a lifelong task, and many people fail to develop the more advanced stages of moral understanding.

Kohlberg’s first ‘preconventional’ level describes children whose understanding of morality is essentially only driven by consequences. Essentially, “might makes right” to a preconventional mind, and they worry about what is right in wrong so they don’t get in trouble. Second stage ‘conventional’ morality describes people who act in moral ways because they believe that following the rules is the best way to promote good personal relationships and a healthy community. A conventional morality person believes it is wrong to steal not just because he doesn’t want to get punished but also because he doesn’t want his friends or family to be harmed.

The final ‘post conventional’ level describes people whose view of morality transcend what the rules or laws say. Instead of just following rules without questioning them, ‘post conventional’ stage people determine what is moral based on a set of values or beliefs they think are right all the time. For example, during the Vietnam War, many Americans who were drafted to be soldiers opposed the war on moral grounds and fled to Canada rather than fight. Even though this behavior was against the law, these people decided that these particular laws did not follow the higher rules they believed in, and they chose to follow their higher rules instead of the law.

Jean Piaget’s cognitive development stage theory

Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (1896-1990), created a cognitive-developmental stage theory that described how children’s ways of thinking developed as they interacted with the world around them. Infants and young children understand the world much differently than adults do, and as they play and explore, their mind learns how to think in ways that better fit with reality.

Piaget’s theory has four stages: Sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational. During the Sensorimotor stage, which often lasts from birth to age two, children are just beginning to learn how to learn. Though language development, and thus thought, does begin during this time, the more major tasks occurring during this period involve children figuring out how to make use of their bodies. They do this by experiencing everything with their five senses, hence “sensory,” and by learning to crawl and then walk point and then grasp, hence, “motor.”
During the preoperational stage, which often lasts from ages two though seven, children start to use mental symbols to understand and to interact with the world, and they begin to learn language and to engage in pretend play. In the concrete operational stage that follows, lasting from ages seven through eleven, children gain the ability to think logically to solve problems and to organize information they learn. However, they remain limited to considering only concrete, not abstract, information because at this stage the capability for abstract thought isn’t well developed yet. Finally, during the formal operational stage, which often lasts from age eleven on, adolescents learn how to think more abstractly to solve problems and to think symbolically, e.g., about things that aren’t really there concretely in front of them. As is the case with Erikson and Kohlberg, Piaget’s ideas will be developed in greater depth in future documents.

Urie Bronfenbrenner ecological system theory
Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917-2005) developed the ecological systems theory to explain how everything in a child and the child’s environment affects how a child grows and develops.
He labeled different aspects or levels of the environment that influence children’s development, including the:

  1. Microsystem.
  2. Mesosystem.
  3. Exosystem.
  4. Macrosystem.
  5. The Microsystem

The Microsystem is the small, immediate environment the child lives in. Children’s Microsystems will include any immediate relationships or organizations they interact with, such as their immediate family or caregivers and their school or daycare.

How these groups or organizations interact with the child will have an effect on how the child grows; the more encouraging and nurturing these relationships and places are, the better the child will be able to grow.

Furthermore, how a child acts or reacts to these people in the Microsystem will affect how they treat her in return. Each child’s special genetic and biologically influenced personality traits, what is known as temperament, end up affecting how others treat them. This idea will be discussed further in later chapters about child temperament.

The Mesosystem
Bronfenbrenner’s next level, the Mesosystem, describes how the different parts of a child’s Microsystem work together for the sake of the child.
For example, if a child’s caregivers take an active role in a child’s school, such as going to parent-teacher conferences and watching their child’s soccer games, this will help ensure the child’s overall growth. In contrast, if the child’s two sets of caretakers, mom with step-dad and dad with step-mom, disagree how to best raise the child and give the child
Conflicting lessons when they see him, this will hinder the child’s growth in different channels.

The Exosystem
The Exosystem level includes the other people and places that the child herself may not interact with often herself but that still have a large affect on her, such as parents’ workplaces, extended family members, the neighborhood, etc.
For example, if a child’s parent gets laid off from work, that may have negative effects on the child if her parents are unable to pay rent or to buy groceries; however, if her parent receives a promotion and a raise at work, this may have a positive effect on the child because her parents will be better able to give her physical needs.

The Macro system
Bronfenbrenner’s final level is the macro system, which is the largest and most remote set of people and things to a child but which still has a great influence over the child .
The Macrosystem includes things such as the relative freedoms permitted by the national government, cultural values, the economy, wars, etc. These things can also affect a child either positively or negatively.

Conclusion.
All of these theorists’ ideas will influence and inspire the coming chapters in this book the chapters will concern child development, both from theoretical perspectives, and also from applied perspectives, in the form of parenting skills coverage. Chapters cover four stages of child development, defined for the purpose of this book to be:
Infancy (covering birth to age two)
Early Childhood (covering ages two to seven)
Middle Childhood (covering ages seven to eleven)
Adolescence (covering ages eleven to twenty-two)

This breakdown of ages provides rough correspondence with the stage theories of Piaget, Erikson, and Bronfenbrenner too. Within each stage, a ‘theory’ document will describe how development typically proceeds through the major developmental channels, including physical, mental, emotional and social, and sexual developments. A second ‘applied’ document will address appropriate parenting skills in light of what is known about children’s development within each stage.
It’s important to remember that while these documents will make general statements about when developments occur in a child’s life, each child will nevertheless develop at his or her own speed, and that even within a given child, certain channels may progress faster than others. For example, a twelve-year-old may have the physical growth and change of an adolescent but mentally still be in the concrete operational stage. This is normal because often one aspect of a child’s being will mature faster than another. Most of the time, given the right nurturing and stimuli, everything will catch up in the end.

These ages are just an average and should be looked at as a general guide rather than a rule. When babies are in infancy, they are changing from being totally dependent on caregivers to learning to walk, to talk, to play alongside others, and are realizing they are their individual selves. When children enter early childhood, they continue to improve their large and small motor skills as they run and move more smoothly. They also grow mentally and socially as they enter school and other places where they interact with children. During middle childhood, children continue to grow and improve physically, while also growing mentally as they attend school. They maintain friendships in large same-sex groups and begin forming ideas about gender roles and jobs. During adolescence, people go through puberty as their bodies mature and become capable to reproduce. Teens attempt to assert their individual identity while still needing rules and limits to continue to help them make good life decisions. During later adolescence, young adults begin the tasks of finding a life calling or job and of finding or creating their own next-generation family.
Even more milestones and more in-depth information will be explained in future
Chapters. Hopefully, they will give you the tools that as a caregiver you need to give your children the best possible basis to grow and to succeed

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Make me understand family, parenting and health by Lukonge Achilees

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The Best Book for Parents and Social Science Students. Make Me Understand Family, Parenting and Health is now near to you.

Welcome to a comprehensive book guide from strategist designed to make you an expert. Here, a book recommended by everyone, and it hits the list of all well executed fascinating parenting books ever written by experts.

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“Women cannot complain about men anymore until they start getting better taste in them.” ~ Bill Maher

All the relationship advice in the world won’t make any difference if you’re choosing the wrong guy. This is the step that often gets missed or overlooked. Women hammer away, trying to pound the proverbial square peg into a round hole, then wonder what they’re doing wrong, why they can’t seem to make it fit, why they can’t get the love they want. You can’t turn a losing stock into a winning stock. You can’t force someone to change and to want what you want. You can’t convince someone to feel a certain way about you.

I spent way too long chasing after guys who wouldn’t or couldn’t give me what I wanted, and then I wondered what was wrong with me when it didn’t get me lasting love! The problem was simple: I was choosing the wrong men. It sounds straightforward enough, but it’s a very tricky thing. We fall for these guys because it feels so right, because we’re swept up in the passion, the chemistry, and the intoxicating aura of unavailability; we get sucked into the space that exists when someone is just beyond our reach and it makes us yearn for him. We convince ourselves that this is it, that he’s the one and we just need to make him see it.

This is where the problems develop. This is where all the questions and tears and doubt and uncertainties and fears start to consume you. You mistake these feelings for true love because maybe you’ve never felt this way before, and you think it must be because this guy is different and this relationship is meant to last.

This is just a glimpse into the confusion that ensues when you choose the wrong guy. If you’re hung up on a man who can’t commit or won’t commit or who is mean to you or who is just a mean person in general, a guy with baggage, a guy with serious issues, a guy who you think would be perfect “if only” he changed such and such, then you’re setting yourself up to lose before you even begin, and you are blocking yourself from ever finding the love you want.

Where Healthy Relationships Begin

Before we talk about what to look for in a guy, it’s important to look at how relationships begin. The start of a relationship can oftentimes color our lenses and sometimes lead us down a bad path and into a toxic relationship.

Here’s a situation that may sound familiar to you (it was certainly a recurring theme for me in my single life!) You meet someone, something clicks, and suddenly it feels like a force outside of you has taken over.

After this encounter you can’t—for the life of you—get this guy out of your head. You try to think about other things but nothing works. You ruminate over every detail of your interaction with him—what he said, what you said, what his body language said. You think about the things you wish you had said.

You check your phone constantly to see if he called or texted. If he does, your stomach drops, your heart races, you want to leap off your seat and shout for joy. And then of course you need to figure out the exact right thing to say back to him, the perfect quip to show him that you’re perfect for each other.

The high continues as you venture into a relationship, and it becomes even more intense. You never quite know where you stand with him. The uncertainty keeps you on your toes, constantly on alert for something that looks like a bad sign or an ominous foreshadowing. This emotional rollercoaster is as thrilling as it is exhausting. You’re hooked. The worst possible thing that could happen is him leaving. It’s a fear you can’t quite shake no matter how promising the situation looks, a fear that drives everything you say and do.

Now another scenario.

You meet a guy, you think he’s nice and all, you have a good conversation, and he gets your number. While you’re pleased, you don’t go into a tizzy over it. You may check his Facebook profile, but only for a few minutes. You are happy to hear from him if he calls or texts, but you don’t notice the hours that pass in between your interactions. You go out a few times, not expecting much, but soon enough your interest and attraction begin to grow. Things feel calm, there’s no drama, no heart palpitations … and it feels really nice

Which relationship do you think has a stronger chance of survival?

Instinctively, you would say the second one. In real life, you would fall for the first. That’s because the first scenario illustrates everything we’ve ever been told about love.

In movies and romance novels, love is this grand, all-consuming force that takes you over in the most dramatic of ways. There are huge obstacles to overcome, but it’s OK because love conquers all! I mean, would any of us have cared for “The Notebook” if Ali and Noah were of the same social status, went on a few lukewarm dates, then got to know each other and developed a deepening connection over time? Don’t think so

Unhealthy Relationships Start With a Pull

developed a deepening connection over time? Don’t think so

Unhealthy Relationships Start With a Pull

Relationships that start from a place of pure, unadulterated passion can seldom survive unless they have some substance and depth of connection to stand on. Explosive chemistry isn’t what creates a lasting, healthy relationship. It can lead to great sex and feelings of euphoria, and you may come to understand why they say love is a drug, but no matter how intense and all consuming, that sort of thing is seldom sustainable long term.

When you feel a strong and sudden pull towards someone else, the kind that causes you to turn him from mere mortal to deity-like being, something sinister is usually at play. OK, maybe not sinister, but something that isn’t exactly what you would term romantic. There are a few good reasons why we might become inexplicably drawn to someone who isn’t good for us.

Imago Theory

This theory, developed by clinical pastoral counselor Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., posits that the pull we feel towards another person is guided by our unconscious desire to rectify some issue from our past. Imago is Latin for image, and the theory essentially states that we unconsciously seek partners who reflect the image of our primary caregivers so that we can try to heal lingering wounds inflicted by them by working through issues with someone in their image. These relationships present the opportunity to heal ourselves and become whole again, but they also pose the risk of continuing to pour salt into open wounds.

How it pans out is something like this: if your parents always made you feel like you weren’t good enough, you may seek out guys who make you feel like you’re not good enough, then try to win them over in an attempt to rectify those painful feelings from your past.

If your father was very critical, you may find yourself drawn to a man who is very critical, trying to win his love and approval in order to heal from the hurt of your father’s rejection. These decisions aren’t conscious, they happen very deep beneath the surface in areas we can’t easily access. When we meet someone, we immediately sense everything about him, especially the way he makes us feel (again, this happens unconsciously).

On a conscious level, you may assess the things he says, but on an unconscious level, you’re looking at his body language, his tone, the way he phrases things, how much eye contact he makes, his whole demeanor. If your unconscious finds something familiar in that person, something that reminds you of an unresolved hurt from the past, it will light up and push you towards that person.

You may also unconsciously seek out partners who have some quality that is underdeveloped in you. For example, if you’re a Type A workaholic and always wished you could ease up, you may be drawn to a laid-back partner who isn’t so driven.

Maybe this sounds a little too New Agey to you, or maybe it doesn’t describe your situation at all, but it’s a powerful concept and it has gained a

lot of praise and recognition in the field of psychology so it’s worth considering. I know I’ve seen some of this at play in my own dating life.

Infatuation

Being infatuated sounds like a grand, romantic thing, but it can actually be quite dangerous. The problem with infatuation is it isn’t based on anything real. Infatuation causes you to fall in love with an image rather than an actual person. It causes you to put someone on a pedestal and overlook his flaws. Since he’s so “perfect,” you become afraid to be yourself—I mean, how could your true self ever compete with perfection?
You don’t want to say the wrong thing and scare him off, so you aren’t genuine in your interactions. You rely on his approval so desperately that you also become a bit needy. You may not act needy, but it’s something that lurks beneath the surface and he will pick up on it … men always do. You lose your sense of worth because it becomes so wrapped up in how he feels about you.

Healthy Relationships Build Slowly

Healthy relationships usually begin with mutual interest and attraction that grows over time. This is the complete opposite of unhealthy relationships, which usually start out with a grand light show that quickly simmers into ash. If you can internalize this, it will change the way you date forever.

The most important trait to develop is objectivity. No one really talks about that because it’s not so sexy, but if you want to find lasting love and prevent yourself from getting hurt, you’ll need to learn how to use your head a little more than your heart, at least in the beginning. Your heart can lead you into all kinds of bad places. Your heart is the one that tells you it’s a great idea to go for the bad boy who’s just so dreamy, even when he’s out on parole and struggling with addictions, or has told you he won’t be in a committed relationship, ever. Your heart convinces you that the heart wants what the heart wants and who are you to deny your heart? Your heart doesn’t operate according to reason or rational. It makes you do things that you later look back on and wonder, what was I thinking? But you weren’t thinking, that’s not what the heart does. OK, I know I’m being mean to the heart. It does have its benefits, but that comes later. In the beginning of a relationship, it’s best to remain as objective as possible and try to keep your emotions mostly contained.

The best way to do this is to try to go slowly. Ease into the relationship instead of diving in head first. This will create an environment for you to allow your level of interest and attraction to grow steadily over time, rather than flooding you all at once in a big emotional tsunami.

If you spend all your time with him, you risk overlooking critical information about who he really is and if the relationship is built to last. Just because two people feel strongly for each other it doesn’t always mean they can be together.

It is imperative to have a foundation of compatibility, shared goals and interests, and common values. Some things simply can’t be negotiated. Before you emotionally invest, it is wise to determine if you are fundamentally compatible. And the best way to do this is to go slowly. I don’t necessarily mean physically, I mean emotionally.

When you first meet someone, you want to spend every minute of every day with him. You talk for hours and hours on the phone, text all day, you can’t get enough. The obvious reason this is problematic is because you may end up relying too heavily on the relationship for your happiness, but also, you don’t get a break from the emotional excitement and stimulation of it all. Then, if you realize this guy may not be right for you, you’ll be in too deep to get yourself out of the situation. You’ll instead rely on some cliché like “love conquers all” to justify staying with him.

I am not saying to stay away from guys you feel a strong immediate attraction to and only date guys you’re only “meh” about. I think you should date both kinds of guy—the infatuation guy could turn out to be a loser and the “meh” guy could turn out to be the love of your life. (I’ve seen it happen countless times!)

Either way you have to date smart. This will come more naturally with “meh” than it will with the object of your infatuation.

If you just met or just started seeing someone, I strongly advise that you try to limit how much time you spend with him early on. Try to not go on more than two dates a week or engage in marathon texting sessions that go all day. When you do this, you never get a break from the emotional high and you don’t get a chance to come back down and recalibrate.

So many girls make the mistake of getting caught up in how the guy feels about them rather than focusing on how they feel about him.

You can avoid falling into this trap by doing regular reality checks. Make sure you see him and the situation clearly. The best way to do this is to make sure you can recognize his flaws. The way you know you’re infatuated is if you see no flaws. Everyone has flaws.

Why It Matters

When you get in over your head, you may convince yourself that something like him wanting to live only in the country and you wanting to live only in the city is not such a big deal. Someone who maintains a more objective perspective would acknowledge that she would be miserable living in the country, and since this guy wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else, she would get out of the situation.

I’ve seen (and personally experienced) many situations where a couple breaks up after a long period of time because of some issue that was apparent right from the beginning—they’re different religions, want to live in different states, one person doesn’t want kids. In every one of these situations, the couple believed that things would magically just work out. Imagine how much time and effort they would have saved and heartbreak they would have avoided had they been dating with their heads instead of
their hearts from the beginning.

Qualities That Make Him a Keeper

A lot of women write to me begging to understand why their relationships always fail … why guys treat them badly…why they always get hurt … why they can’t get a guy to commit. The common thread in most of these cases is that these women are choosing men who clearly are not husband—or even relationship—material and hoping that by some chance the men will suddenly transform into the knights in shining armor they want. This type of situation doesn’t exist anywhere aside from cheesy romantic comedies. If you choose to pursue a relationship with a guy who clearly isn’t relationship material, then you’re setting yourself up to fail before you even begin.

Trust me, I know all too well how enticing those damage cases can be. Sure, he has emotional issues, he’s jaded, he’s struggling at work, he has no direction, he still acts like a frat boy even though his acting-like-a-drunk-idiot-and-getting-away-with-it days expired years ago, but there’s a really great guy underneath all that and as soon as we deal with all this other stuff, then we’ll have an amazing relationship. I’m sorry, but no.

The problem with these damage cases is that they often have a lot of the qualities we want, but not the ones we actually need. There is a big difference between wants and needs when it comes to relationships, but it’s not always easy to make the distinction. You might want a guy who is tall and strapping and charismatic and a CEO of a major company, but a guy with those credentials might have a host of other qualities that aren’t good for you and don’t fulfill your fundamental emotional needs. My husband is the opposite of the “ideal man” I had envisioned for myself, but even though he doesn’t have certain qualities I used to consider requirements, he is exactly what I need. That was clear to me and everyone around me very early into our relationship.

When I hit that stage in life where I realized I was done dating for the sake of dating and wanted to settle down and find “the one,” I realized that the kinds of guys I liked to date weren’t necessarily husband material, and I had to really examine my list of wants and needs and figure out the differences between the two. Doing so made all the difference. Suddenly the damage cases who were once oh so appealing did nothing for me.

Whether you’re single, dating, or in a serious relationship, these are the most essential qualities you need to look for in a man, the ones that tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s the one and this is it.

now all too well how enticing those damage cases can be. Sure, he has emotional issues, he’s jaded, he’s struggling at work, he has no direction, he still acts like a frat boy even though his acting-like-a-drunk-idiot-and-getting-away-with-it days expired years ago, but there’s a really great guy underneath all that and as soon as we deal with all this other stuff, then we’ll have an amazing relationship. I’m sorry, but no.

The problem with these damage cases is that they often have a lot of the qualities we want, but not the ones we actually need. There is a big difference between wants and needs when it comes to relationships, but it’s not always easy to make the distinction. You might want a guy who is tall and strapping and charismatic and a CEO of a major company, but a guy with those credentials might have a host of other qualities that aren’t good for you and don’t fulfill your fundamental emotional needs. My husband is the opposite of the “ideal man” I had envisioned for myself, but even though he doesn’t have certain qualities I used to consider requirements, he is exactly what I need. That was clear to me and everyone around me very early into our relationship.

When I hit that stage in life where I realized I was done dating for the sake of dating and wanted to settle down and find “the one,” I realized that the kinds of guys I liked to date weren’t necessarily husband material, and I had to really examine my list of wants and needs and figure out the differences between the two. Doing so made all the difference. Suddenly the damage cases who were once oh so appealing did nothing for me.

Whether you’re single, dating, or in a serious relationship, these are the most essential qualities you need to look for in a man, the ones that tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s the one and this is it

    • He loves your good qualities and accepts and embraces the bad without making you feel guilty for having flaws. You don’t need to hide your true self from him and put on a front in order to be what you think he wants. You can share your true self and be vulnerable and feel safe doing so, knowing that if anything it will
      make him feel even closer to you.
    • He is there for you when you need him, even if it’s inconvenient for him. A partnership will sometimes require sacrifice and compromise. Life is unpredictable and unexpected. You can’t predict what will happen and nothing can possibly go as planned 100% of the time. A guy who is husband material will be there for you when you need him. He will be in it with you; he will be your partner in whatever happens and will weather the storm with you, even though he might prefer to stay in the sunshine.
    • He considers you when making decisions, both big and small.A relationship is a partnership, not a dictatorship. Factoring you in shows that he respects you and that he wants to create a life with you, not simply envelope you in his world. Our worlds can be comfortable when we don’t have to compromise, so it’s not always easy taking someone else into account and factoring in their wants and needs and preferences, but that’s what a relationship is.
  • He is growth oriented. No one is perfect; we all have flaws. And these flaws aren’t black and white—usually a person’s greatest strength is linked to his greatest weakness. In a relationship, his behavior affects you (and vice versa) and sometimes his less developed traits will have a negative impact on you. A growth-oriented guy will want to work to strengthen his character. A guy who isn’t growth oriented will say it’s your problem and that this is just the way he is and you need to deal with it.
    • For example, let’s say you’re dating a guy who can be insensitive at times. Maybe he doesn’t give you emotional support when you’ve had a rough day and instead just gives you matter of fact advice in a direct way. His no-nonsense approach to solving problems might be useful to him in the workplace, but it might be hurtful to you sometimes when he doesn’t empathize with what you’re going through and instead just tells you what to do about it, or gets impatient by the fact that you’re upset over something he doesn’t consider to be that big of a deal.
    • You want a guy who will accept that his tone can come across as harsh and hurtful to you and who actually tries to work on it, not one who says it’s your problem and you need to deal with it. He probably won’t get it right every time, but if he’s growth oriented he will at least try.
  • He has similar beliefs and values.This one seems so obvious yet it’s so often overlooked. Love does not in fact conquer all. If you are not fundamentally compatible, you will face major hurdles ahead. If he is going to be your life partner, you have to make sure you are both on the same page when it comes to issues that matter. And if you aren’t on the same page, then make sure he respects where you stand (and vice versa) and that you’re both willing to work together to reach a mutually fulfilling understanding about your differences.
    • Everyone’s values are different. For some, their values will be rooted in religion. Other people value a strong work ethic, while some value a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. It may sound trivial, but I’ve seen very serious, long-term relationships end because one person couldn’t deal with the other’s lack of ambition or motivation.
  • He views you as his partner. The relationship is something more than each of you individually … together, you and he are a team. And as that team, you are both individually stronger than you could be on your own. He sees you as his equal, as a person of great value, someone he can grow with. Not someone who is there to feed his ego, give him validation, be his emotional crutch, or be there solely to satisfy his needs.
    • He respects everything about you—your thoughts, ambitions, opinions, the things you say, the company you keep, your job. He doesn’t make you feel bad about your life circumstances and he appreciates the person you are and the choices you have made.
  • He wants to make you happy. One of a man’s most fundamental needs in a relationship is to make his girl happy. It may not always feel like it or look like it, but it’s true. In order to truly bond with a woman, a man needs to feel like he can make her happy. And when a man truly cares for a woman, he wants to do whatever it takes to make her happy. Love is a selfless thing. If you love people because they make you feel great about yourself, then it isn’t real love. When a man shows he genuinely cares about you and your happiness, even if it sometimes comes at the expense of his own happiness, then you know his feelings are for real.
  • He communicates with you, even about tough issues and even if one of you is upset with the other.With the right guy, you won’t be afraid of bringing up certain things for fear of rocking the boat. You know he respects you and will see what you have to say as valid and important. Every relationship will face its share of obstacles. There will be fights, miscommunications, arguments, and also times when one partner isn’t feeling loved. The only way to emerge from the tough times better and stronger is to work through them together, and this starts with open communication.
  • He wants the same kind of commitment you want. A guy can have all the qualities on this list, but if he doesn’t want to marry you (or commit in the way you want), or maybe doesn’t want to get married in general, then he is not for you. When a guy is ready to get married and meets a girl he thinks he can spend his life with, he knows pretty early on. That’s not to say he’ll get engaged right away, but he knows this is it and she knows it too. Maybe he tells her or maybe it’s so obvious he doesn’t even need to. It might be the wrong time, maybe he wants to wait until he’s more established in his career or more financially stable, but he will still convey his level of commitment; she won’t be left hanging and guessing and wondering.
    • If he still feels like he has wild oats to sow and is drawn to the single, bachelor, party-boy lifestyle, he is not commitment minded and you are setting yourself up for disappointment. If what you want is a serious, lasting commitment, make sure he is on the same page before you become invested. When a guy is ready for a serious commitment, it’s usually pretty obvious. And if it isn’t, then bring it up and discuss it with him. If he’s husband material, he’ll understand. If he isn’t … then at least now you know before it’s too late! And yes, I understand that not every woman makes getting married a goal and I respect that. But I’m speaking to those who want a lasting commitment, be it marriage or a partnership without a legal piece of paper.

But the Most Important Quality of All Is …

He wants to make it work. He’s willing to put in any amount of effort. If there is a problem, he wants to find a way to solve it. He wants to work harder, to be better, to be his best self. The important thing to keep in mind is that people have different ideas about what it means to put effort into a relationship. He might believe that working hard and being good at his job is putting in effort because he wants to provide for you and give you nice things and a comfortable lifestyle. (I use this as an example because it’s a classic point of contention between men and women: she will often view him working too much as him putting no effort into the relationship and being married to his work).

I remember the exact moment I knew my husband was the one. After about a month of everything being perfect (as they usually are in the beginning), we had our first conflict. It was nothing major; we just started experiencing areas where our personalities clashed and seeing how we process things differently. I tend to be more intellectual and straightforward in my thinking, while he’s more emotional and dynamic in his thinking. I would get impatient with this, and my impatience was hurtful to him. The details don’t really matter, what matters is that I remember the way he brought the issue up and how sincere he was about working through things and getting to a place of better understanding.

I have seen countless variations of this kind of scenario: girl is dating a guy, things are going great (again, as they often do in the beginning), but then they hit that inevitable point of conflict. Maybe she acts needy or maybe he gets distant, but whatever happens suddenly things aren’t as seamless as they were the week before. Then he decides he can’t hang anymore and tells her he “doesn’t have time for a relationship” or he can’t give her what she needs. The girl racks her brain trying to figure out what she did wrong, what she could have done differently.

She thinks if she hadn’t been so needy, if she had been a little more chilled out, if she hadn’t done this and instead done that. Really, the only way things would have turned out differently is if she had behaved perfectly according to his script, if she’d never disagreed or been unhappy with him, if she’d been perfectly in alignment with his thoughts and what he wanted in a partner. That sounds reasonable, right? (That’s sarcasm in case it didn’t come across!)

If a guy leaves when things get a little rocky, it means he is lacking in the most important quality you need in a partner, and that is a man who is committed not only to you, but to making it work. It’s easy to be in a relationship when everything is all sunshine and roses. The truth comes out after time goes on, when you let your guard down, when you can be more of yourselves instead of the absolute best version of yourselves. Even the best couples don’t seamlessly fit together. There is always a certain degree of work involved in order to create that deep and meaningful connection, and it has to come from both people.

When a guy is ready to settle down and sees you as a good potential partner, he wants to make it work. He wants to overcome the differences, to get to a place of better understanding. My husband and I are so different. The way we think and feel is different, and the way we communicate is different. In the beginning of our relationship this definitely caused problems, but now, after really committing to working on it, we have hit this amazing place of understanding and are so much more in sync. The differences still exist, but we were able to meet in the middle. Even when things got difficult, I wasn’t any less sure he was the guy for me because of how deeply committed he was to making it work.

A big mistake I see women making is blaming themselves when a relationship falls apart. They torture themselves with could haves and should haves. I should have been less needy, I should have been more agreeable, I could have been more supportive, etc. Yeah, you could have done all that, but it wouldn’t have mattered if he wasn’t committed to making it work.

There will always be differences, there will always be problems, you will not always behave exactly how he wants a partner to behave (same for him).

A relationship isn’t about finding the perfect match, it’s about finding someone you can form a meaningful, lasting partnership with. Notice the word form. It’s an active process; it doesn’t just exist. It’s about working together, being a team, and overcoming the challenges.

Some people have deal-breakers and that’s that. Maybe it’s religion or where to live or lifestyle preferences. But all the other stuff—personality quirks, your nature, your ways of interacting in social settings, your fundamental traits … either he’s in it or he’s not. And if he’s not, then there is nothing you can do.

Red Flags You Should Never Ignore

Every relationship is different and comes with a unique set of circumstances. However, there are some universal standards that indicate a guy isn’t the right one for you, a few red flags that should never be ignored but usually are.

You Don’t Trust Him

Without trust, there is no relationship. Period. In a good, strong, healthy relationship you feel at ease. You feel safe. You feel secure. You do not feel constantly panicked and on edge, always anticipating the proverbial other shoe to drop.

If you don’t believe the things he tells you or are always questioning his motives and his whereabouts, there is something majorly amiss. You can’t spend your life constantly on the lookout; that’s just exhausting.

Sometimes a lack of trust develops because of something substantial. Maybe he cheated, maybe you caught him in a few too many lies. And sometimes it’s something that lingers in the pit of your gut. Even though you can’t quantify the reason, you just don’t feel like you can trust this person. Either way, it’s a big red flag and a major sign that your relationship isn’t going to last.

If he cheated on you or lied to you, then you’ll have to be honest with yourself when you decide if you can truly move past it and if you really, genuinely believe that he’ll never do the same thing again. If you can’t get to that place, then there isn’t much point in sticking it out. You’re just setting yourself up for a life in which you always feel paranoid and insecure. Relationships are supposed to bring out your best, not your worst.

If you can’t quite pinpoint the reason for your trust issues, you should listen to your gut. Our gut instincts can be incredibly powerful. Just make sure you aren’t projecting your own insecurities onto him and aren’t making him pay for the sins of a cheating/lying ex.

There Is No Depth of Connection

Sexual chemistry is great and is definitely important, but that alone can’t sustain a relationship. An amazing sex life is only one piece of the puzzle, yet for a lot of couples it’s the only leg the relationship has to stand on. I know so, so many women who got so engulfed by the intoxicating chemistry they experienced with their partner that they overlooked every sign that clearly showed he wasn’t the one … and wasn’t even that great of a person.

For a relationship to last, you need to have depth of connection. You need to know your partner intimately, and this goes way beyond his bedroom skills. You need to know who he is, what he wants out of life, and what his hopes, dreams, and fears are. You need to connect to each other in an honest, unguarded way.

Each person is composed of many layers. In our lives, some people see the surface layer, a select few see what lies beneath the exterior, and very few see straight to the core. Your life partner should be in the last group.

Knowing the basics about someone isn’t knowing who they are. If you know the same things about your guy as most of the other people in his life, then you don’t have much depth of connection.
Fortunately, this issue is one that can be fixed. Try to make an effort to connect to him in a real way. If he resists, or you still don’t feel like you’re connecting in a significant way, then it means he’s probably not that invested in you or the relationship. Or maybe you’re just not the right fit for one another.

Attraction and sexual chemistry are never enough to sustain a relationship. If that’s all you have that’s fine, but you might want to move on if you’re serious about finding the one.

Lack of Respect

Respect is the most overlooked element when it comes to making a relationship work, but it’s one of the most essential. If you’re going to have a long-lasting, healthy relationship, you must respect your partner and he must respect you.

Respect is huge for guys. In fact, I’d say it’s the number one thing men want out of their relationship. Just as most women need to feel loved and adored, men need to feel respected and admired. A man needs to feel like the man; he needs to feel respected. If you don’t respect him or the way he lives his life, he will resent you and will not want to be with you long term.

At the same time, you need to be with a partner who respects you. This means he respects you as a person: your beliefs, your aspiration, and especially your boundaries.

Eye rolling has actually been shown by famous relationship researcher John Gottman to be a big predictor of divorce, and it’s no surprise … eye rolling is a manifestation of contempt, which is the opposite of respect.

He Brings out Your Worst

As I mentioned earlier, relationships are supposed to bring out your best.

The sad fact is, a lot of women end up shackled to a person who brings out their worst.

Sometimes you might not even recognize the person that your relationship has turned you into. That was definitely the case for me many years back before I knew any better. I made the same mistake countless women make. I got so caught up in my feelings for the guy that I overlooked the fact that I didn’t really like myself all that much when I was around him.

Throughout the course of my yearlong relationship with Eric, I was unrecognizable from my previous confident, happy, positive self. Instead I felt insecure, panicked, anxious, and perpetually on edge, but I couldn’t let go because of my strong feelings for him. Those feelings locked me in a tight grip, and it was only when the relationship inevitably imploded that I was able to see just how toxic the situation truly was.

It wasn’t that he was a bad guy; he was just bad for me. It’s a fact that would have saved me years of heartache had I realized it sooner. While getting myself out of that relationship felt impossible, the end was always inevitable because we brought out the worst in each other.

The point is, a relationship should lift you higher, not drag you down. It should help you reach your potential and become the best version of yourself. Of course relationships can’t be all sunshine and roses all the time. They take patience and work. But this work leads to a positive place, a place of growth and understanding and more love and connection. Bad relationships are ones where the work involved is expending energy on fighting and arguing and trying to win. A relationship won’t always feel perfect and pleasant, but overall it will help you grow into a better person, as long as you’re with a good guy who is committed to making it work and loves and appreciates you for who you are.

He Doesn’t Take Responsibility

One of the biggest relationship red flags is when someone won’t take responsibility for anything and instead blames you, maybe using a justification along the lines of, “Well I wouldn’t yell at you if you weren’t being so annoying.” Rather than admitting when he’s wrong, he comes up with excuses and justifications for his behaviors and reasons to blame you.

One of the biggest indicators of psychopaths or sociopaths is not being able to take responsibility; it’s a fundamental lack of empathy that prevents them from ever being able to see the other person’s perspective. However, it doesn’t always start out this way. In the beginning he’s enraptured by you and everything you do is right. Then suddenly he’s unhappy and he blames you for everything that’s wrong. If you erroneously reason that you’re the problem, he may feed this mentality. You don’t inspire him enough, you don’t give him what he needs, you aren’t supportive enough, you’re always negative. It’s always you, never him.

I’m not saying every guy who can’t take responsibility is a psycho; he could just be immature. But it is something to keep in mind because narcissists are out there and this is one of their key features.

He’s Selfish

I have a friend who was seeing a guy she really liked, and she continued to date him even though he was clearly a bit immature and selfish and not ready to settle down (we joked that he had her sexmotized and that’s why she wasn’t able to break free of his spell). There were signs of trouble all over the place, but most were little things and that’s why they were easy to sweep under the rug.

For example, one night she suggested they go to a vegetarian Indian restaurant she loved, and he got all pissy and said there wasn’t a point in going out for Indian food if he couldn’t eat meat. Never mind the fact that he always chose the restaurants, that they always did what he wanted, that they always slept at his apartment because that’s what he wanted, or the fact that he had told her to pick a place for dinner. It was the one time she got to decide something, and she was overruled because it wasn’t what he wanted.

This may seem like a silly example, but it demonstrates the essence of selfishness, one that will continue to pop up when dealing with a selfish person. And in that relationship, it did, over and over until finally she couldn’t take it anymore and ended it. (This launched the make-up and break-up cycle for a while, because that’s what happens when you linger in a relationship with the wrong guy, but eventually they cut it off for good.)

Selfish people also tend to engage in selfish love. That is, they love you when you make them feel good; when you’re behaving how they want you to, they’re the best partners ever. When you go off script, then they withdraw and won’t do anything for you in a sort of tit-for-tat retaliation.

That’s not how a relationship works. A relationship isn’t there to serve one person. It’s a partnership and it’s about working together, not one person working for the other.

Let Your Gut Be Your Guide

I mentioned the importance of listening to your gut earlier and want to get into it a little deeper because it’s an essential skill, one that can keep you out of sticky situations.
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At the end of the day, you usually already know the answers to your dating questions. The lists I provided of qualities to look for and red flags to watch out for can help you see things more clearly, maybe making it harder to hide from what’s right in front of you, but oftentimes you already know. You know when a guy isn’t worthy of you—when you’re wasting your time, when you’re not being treated the way you would like to be treated or the way you know you deserve to be treated—but you push this knowledge down because you just don’t want to deal with it. You don’t want to deal with a breakup, with putting yourself back on the market, with dating more guys, navigating the waters, trying to find a guy who cares about you. You don’t want to because it’s exhausting! It seems somehow easier to stick with what’s broken and try to just make it work.

In a good, strong, healthy relationship, you feel loved and secure. You don’t question whether your man is using you and if the things he says are genuine. You just feel at ease. Feeling constantly on edge, waiting anxiously for the other shoe to drop, is usually a sign that something is amiss and your instincts are trying to open your eyes to a reality you don’t want to see.

Your gut is a powerful tool in relationships. It’s something we all possess and it can be fine-tuned to work optimally. The way to get in touch with it is to listen to what it’s telling you. Listen to that small, quiet voice that gently tells you: “You deserve more than this, you don’t need this guy.”

The voice of your ego is loud and overpowering. It tells you “Of course he’s the guy for you! So what if he disappears for days at a time, he told you that you were the most amazing women he’s ever met, so I mean, DUH! He loves you.”

Your ego shouts over the noise and convinces you that the outcome you want is reality because it has a lot at stake should this not be the case.

Most people allow their egos to get so entangled in their relationships that when the relationship collapses, their ego comes crashing down with it and then absolute misery ensues.

Our unconscious mind has a whole arsenal of information that our conscious mind doesn’t have easy access to. It has stored up pretty much everything that’s ever happened to us and makes decisions accordingly.

Have you ever met someone and liked him right away even though you barely knew him? Or maybe you meet someone who seems perfectly nice, but you just can’t stand her? This is the unconscious at work. The people we’re drawn to oftentimes remind us of people we’ve had positive encounters with in the past. So too with the people we don’t like right off the bat.

You can pick up on things subconsciously without even realizing it, and it will cause you to have a feeling that you can’t quite pinpoint or explain.

The point is, most of the time you already know the answer. The problem is that you wish it were a different answer so instead of accepting it you whittle away what you know with rationalizations.

Here are a few tips to help you get better acquainted with your gut:

  • Ask yourself a question and listen for the immediate answer. For example, if you’re debating whether or not to dump your boyfriend, ask yourself: “Should I break up with him?” and listen to what first pops into your head. The real answer will most often come first, and then the excuses and justifications will pile on top.
  • Make the decision and then listen to your body. If it’s a bad decision you’ll feel an aversion to it, usually in the pit of your stomach.
  • Check with a friend. It can help to get an outsider’s perspective because sometimes we can mistake wishful thinking for our gut instincts. Talk to a friend you trust for a dose of objectivity.
  • Practice mindfulness. Most people live their lives bouncing from one thing to the next—work, errands, happy hour. There isn’t that much time to listen to our own thoughts. Try to stay mindful and conscious throughout the day and check in with yourself to see what you’re thinking and feeling. It also helps to set aside some reflection time. You can use this time to meditate, do yoga, journal, take a walk around the park—anything that will give you the space to check in
    with yourself.

Remember this: Choice is everything. It will largely determine if a relationship succeeds and lasts or fails and leaves you broken-hearted. The good news is that you have the power to choose the man you let into your life. Choose wisely!