Interviewed by: Maria Dimitrova for zdravoslovnohranene.com
Stella Daskalova is extremely warm and has a friendly smile. She is a family consultant and author of the books: “What Happens with Love?” and “Everything Begins with Childhood”. I talked to her about the most typical mistakes in the way Bulgarians traditionally educate their children, and why parents should not be afraid to assess their attitudes towards children. Even if they realise they might have made a lot of mistakes, this does not mean that they should feel guilty about it.
This is what Stella Daskalova said about the challenges of parenthood in the first part of the interview.
- Hello, Stella! Would you say that parents are increasingly looking for books on self-improvement and parenting?
Yes, there is such a trend. In the past, couples weren’t in the habit of reading books about child care, but this has changed in the past 5 years . In actual fact, the interest in my book has exceeded my expectations and has been re-published several times since 2011. When the last edition was sold out, I received many letters from parents about whether it would be re-published because they wanted to give it to their friends.
- What is the biggest problem for parents in their relationship with children?
Parents’ lack of self-awareness. If they don’t think about the way they were brought up themselves and the effect of their upbringing, then they are likely to make the same mistakes as their parents. On the other hand, if they try to avoid the mistakes of their parents, they might go to the other extreme. Parents often transfer erroneous and conservative patterns of behaviour and thinking to their children by inertia.
- What is typical in the way children in Bulgarian society are brought up?
One particular typical trait amongst Bulgarian parents is a lack of any spontaneous expression of love and avoiding praise for fear of spoiling their children. Excessive strictness is not authority but pseudo-authority. It creates a distance which detracts from happiness in relationships. Strictness doesn’t mean force. True parental authority is not a matter of their strictness, but inner strength as a result of their personal development.
- Is it important for couples to realize that they need to continue to develop as individuals and, once they become parents, to maintain their own interests and hobbies?
Yes. That’s right. The best parent is the happy parent. Most parents think that the ideal parent is one who makes sacrifices for their children, and exhausts themselves completely. This is completely wrong. An exhausted parent becomes annoying, grumpy, intrusive and uninteresting. The unhappy parent teaches their children to be miserable. No one wants their children to be unhappy. However, we simply have not been taught that the best way to make our children happy is to find our own way to happiness and inner harmony.
- Some parenting books give specific examples of what parents can do in a situation, for example when a child has a screaming fit in a toy shop. In your book, “Everything Begins with Childhood,” you don’t emphasize specific cases, but rather you focus on erroneous models of thinking on the part of parents. Why did you choose this approach when writing the book?
Even if a parent reads a lot of books containing descriptions of specific problem solving situations, if they’re not confident in his or her own ability to make decisions in a different situation, they will still feel scared or stressed. The way of thinking needs to change, and then whatever situation you encounter, you will find the right solution. You will sense a different type of energy because you will be convinced that you can cope. That was the aim of my book: – to give parents confidence that they have the ability and potential to make correct decisions. Parents just need to correct some of the beliefs and attitudes I speak about in the book, such as negativity.
- Do you mean negativity in the way we perceive the world and in communication with adults?
Yes. We don’t realize how much we burden children with what they hear and see from both the media and conversations between adults. Parents think that while their children are playing, they’re not listening to adult conversations, but this is not the case. Children hear a lot of things, even when they seem to be totally absorbed in playing. What they hear determines their worldview and their perception of the world. Many parents let their children watch the news on television, based on the principle that “this is life, and children need to know what’s going on.” However, the media are manipulative and selectively display only negative and shocking things. As parents, we have to go in the other direction, if we want our children to be happy. We need to develop their ability to selectively receive positive information; information that makes them feel good.
Interviewed by: Maria Dimitrova