Dr. Emma R. Gonsalvez

`CARES' was the buzzword at the workshop organised by the Parents Teachers Association of Vidhya Niketan School, Coimbatore, recently. Conducting the workshop was Dr. Emma R. Gonsalvez of Chennai.

She has a string of degrees to her name that includes an M.A in Education (she specialised in child psychology and the psychology of exceptional children) and an M.A in Counselling Psychology, both from the US.

She runs EMMAUS, a centre that offers counselling training programmes as well as counselling services. She spoke to Pankaja Srinivasan on the importance of "Parent Effectiveness".

`CARES' is an acronym Emma Gonsalvez uses every time she has to counsel parents.

"C" stands for Counsellors. "Parents are the first counsellors," she explains. "A" stands for an Accepting Parent, "R" is the parent as a Responsible role model, while "E" and "S" stand for parent as Educator and Spiritual Guide respectively.

Gonsalvez says parents are the first counsellors of children as they advise, counsel and guide them from the start.

"Parents need to unconditionally accept their children for what they are. Comparing, judging, pressurising them to be something other than what they are, prodding them into something they are not are all big no nos. This is nothing but using kids to gratify their dreams or ambitions," says Gonsalvez.

According to her, children do exactly what their parents do. It is called `typing after parents' and so, habits, attitudes and beliefs all tend to get perpetuated in the kids.

Therefore, as role models, parents need to watch their Ps and Qs. And, they are as much educators as their children's teachers are. "Teach them to love learning," she says.

Emma Gonsalvez points out that parents often do things they shouldn't be doing. For one, she says, "Most of the time as parents, we are only `talking', not `communicating' with our children."

She continues, "We discourage our children from making decisions. Right from what they should wear, to what they should eat, to whom they should marry youngsters are not allowed to make their own decisions." "Reduce `you' statements," she advises. They are attack statements. Accusing children all the time and pointing fingers serves no purpose. Learn to be with each other rather than at each other, she says.

And, she warns against "buying and selling good behaviour". By doing this we are sowing the seeds of corruption in our children. About the "S" in the CARES, being spiritual guides, Emma Gonsalvez urges parents to teach children to live their belief and religion.