About See-Saw Parenting & Dr. Ellen Toronto

About See-Saw Parenting

My blog is not just about “doing parenting”, but rather about being a parent and the life-changing and “soul-full” commitment it requires. It is written for the bewildered parent—one who comes to parenting unprepared for the relentless demands that children make. It is for those individuals who like my husband and me came from difficult childhoods and were yet committed to creating a peaceful family life with happy and productive children.

It recounts the process through which we came to recognize and understand that every human being has a core, a basic essence that he or she will fight to preserve. We discovered that it was our job as parents to know and appreciate that essence in our children so that it could be preserved into adulthood.

Through our personal and professional experience we developed a parenting model which allows us to honor and support that essence as it evolves into adulthood. It is a model which recognizes that all people—parents and children alike –need and want mutual recognition and respect. We call our model see-saw parenting because it takes into account the delicate balance required in the relation between parents and children. In order to maintain this balance it obliges us to think of our children as our peers and equals on the journey of life. We describe in detail the kind of environment that allows us to maintain that equilibrium without losing our minds or allowing our children to run amok. We share many examples of situations in which we both succeeded and failed.

The blog will trace our model through the arc of parenting from the frenetic early years of no sleep and teaching four boys under the age of nine to aim their spray into the bowl. We describe the perils of homework and schooling, sibling fights, sex education and the siren call of the virtual world. We address the bittersweet passages of leaving home and mother’s near breakdown. We also address our own early years and the ways in which those experiences played out in our parenting. Finally we address the forgiveness and redemption that we discovered as we came to exonerate our own parents for their failings and find that that which binds us together are our imperfections and our imperfect love.

How it will help:

  • Understanding that one is not alone in feeling overwhelmed.
  • Understanding that childhood experiences really do affect our parenting in the present.
  • How knowing and respecting the core essence in each family member will do much to avoid conflict and increase harmony.
  • How pre-emptive meetings and conferences in which each person may speak or express freely will work wonders in preventing future conflict.
  • How decisions made with the input of all family members will enhance cooperation and collaboration
  • Understanding the importance of caring for self as a mother or father, that is, that all energy cannot be directed toward the children.
  • Traversing issues such as school, homework, sibling rivalry, and sex education while attempting to honor basic essence in both parents and children.
  • Finding and recognizing the transcendent joy that makes the effort worthwhile.

About Ellen Toronto, Ph.D.

Dr. Ellen L. K. Toronto has nearly forty years of experience in the psychology field. She earned her bachelor’s in psychology from Miami University in Ohio and completed a doctorate in from the University of Michigan and a clinical internship at the Lafayette Clinic in Detroit. Toronto is a member of the American Psychological Association and a founding member and past president of the Michigan Psychoanalytical Council.

Throughout a diverse career, she has acted as a psychotherapist, parent coordinator, divorce mediator, and custody evaluator, all while managing her own private practice in Ann Arbor. Between being published in numerous journals and her diverse career, Toronto is a foremost authority in her field.

She is also co-author of the book, Family Entanglement: Unraveling the Knots and Finding Joy in the Parent-Child Journey.

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 Jun 2013
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Jun 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.