Frances Walfish, Psy.D. is a leading child and family therapist in private practice in Beverly Hills, CA. Over the years, Dr. Walfish has served a diverse patient population, including working-class families as well as Hollywood’s elite, and has achieved recognition as a respected child development specialist and parent educator.

As the author of The Self Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building a Better Bond with Your Child she was a natural choice to interview for the Therapy Soup series of interviews and articles leading up to National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week (May 6-12, 2012).

We’re going to be speaking with Dr. Fran about self-aware parenting in this post, and empathy, in the next.

Thanks so much for joining us, Dr. Fran. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy for a parent to “lose” themselves. It’s so important to understand what works with children and teens, and what doesn’t. In fact, just identifying the qualities that make for effective parenting, is a good first step. Let’s focus on understanding: What is a self-aware parent?

The Self-Aware Parent is one who is always curious and open enough to look within and become more aware of their own strengths and weaknesses based on the parenting they received from their mothers and fathers.  They are kind and nice to their child(ren).

This parent understands that no one is perfect. He strives to be “good enough.”

She doesn’t get caught in power struggles with her child.  She never engages in negotiations, bargaining, or deal making.

He balances nurturing, setting limits, and boundaries.  He listens to his child.  He interprets both verbal and non-verbal cues.

She encourages healthy expression of anger.  She also nurtures and praises every incremental step toward separation.  She encourages her child’s unique and individual ideas, thoughts, and opinions.

He has special time with his kids every day.

She shields her children from hearing Mom and Dad fight.

This parent is not afraid to reach out and ask questions of others if she doesn’t know what to do.

He builds self-esteem by using words that support and motivate with empathic attunement, rather than criticize.

She equips her child with coping skills to deal with disappointments.

She and her husband have a weekly date night and daily talk time.  The foundation of your family is built upon the bricks and mortar of your marital relationship.

Developing these qualities takes commitment. There’s more to learn in her book, The Self-Aware Parent.

We’ll be back with Dr. Fran next week as she speaks about empathy. You can visit Dr. Fran Walfish’s website,