Dear Doctor, 

My daughter has just become a mother for the first time. She has a beautiful daughter — my first grandchild. She has been on the phone almost constantly with me asking what she should do about this or that. It would help if she could understand what being a parent is all about. I would love to hear what you have to say and will share your answer with her. Thank you.

New Nana

Dear Nana,

Let me begin by congratulating both of you and wishing you great joy. Indeed, joy is the first element of being a good parent.

It can also be a sobering moment, for some actually terrifying. It need not be. My advice is to look inside yourself and you will find the stuff of which being an effective parent is made.

You will never be perfect. None of us are. All of us have made our share of mistakes. You do know one thing. It is important to be there, all the way, as your child grows and develops. That means unconditional love. Notice it does not mean blind or overprotective love.

It means growing yourself. You have never been a parent before. Learn. Find out what works. But, above all, think.

This means considering what you are doing and using your power of thought. It means listening to your child from their toddler years to their teen years. As you listen, you will discover much about this life you have brought into the world.

Experts are fine, but take them with a grain of salt. Become your own expert, but one who is ready to listen and change if need be.

Appreciate the youngster you have and shape the character you see. Do not make the mistake of trying to create what you may want.

Above all, express in word and behavior the love you feel, even when the behavior of your child may tax your limits.

Trust yourself. Multitudes have made this journey before you. Don’t miss out on a single moment of joy.

Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, email him at


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