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Claire N. Barnes, MA Headshot

The Royal Parents

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Ring the bells! Sound the trumpets! Hang the bunting! Plan the christening! The royal baby has arrived, and a beautiful baby he is. Like the face of every newborn, hope and innocence are reflected back to each person adoring the infant. And new parents Will and Kate will soon wonder what they did with their spare time before their son came into their lives.

As they develop their parenting style, the public arena will create challenges the rest of us cannot begin to imagine. But the details of their family histories will cause challenges we commoners can understand quite well.

One of the questions facing the new parents will be how the they were raised impacts their parenting. Because family patterns generally play out and repeat through generations, what has preceded this young family might offer clues to the future.

It is difficult to find information about Kate's family beyond the broader details of her parents' lives. We know they are an intact family, upper middle class, and have made their own way in British society -- quite successfully, obviously, since their daughter is the future Queen of England.

Will's family history paints a very different picture. The divorce of his parents, preceded by public parental conflict, was painful to watch. This is complicated by the reality that of his father's three siblings, only one of them has an intact marriage.

In spite of this complex history, there are hopeful clues they are on the right track to creating a healthy home life for the new prince.

Clue #1: Will and Kate knew each other a long, long time before they got married. They were friends before they were romantically involved, and even though there was a brief split in their relationship, their ability to reunite successfully and marry was a sign of maturity and couple strength.

Clue #2: From all appearances, both Will and Kate have devoted parents. Even though Will's parents were divorced, they both demonstrated devotion to their sons. Princess Diana seemed intent on staying engaged with her boys and their well-being was a priority. Prince Charles' public support of his children when their mother died was impressive. Because parenting styles are passed down through generations, it is reasonable to expect Will and Kate will replicate this affection.

Clue #3: There is a 'village' of relatives who will play an integral role in the child's life. When caught in unguarded moments, the warm, spontaneous interactions between Will, Kate, Harry and Pippa are observable. John Bradshaw, the noted psychologist who wrote extensively about how we are shaped by our families said: "Since the earliest period of our life was preverbal, everything depended on emotional interaction. Without someone to reflect our emotions, we had no way of knowing who we were. These youthful parents and their supportive siblings offer an expectation of a warm and nurturing extended family environment.

And what about the Great Grandparents? The Grandparents? They've definitely had the responsibility to be role models within their own family and to the British people. Some scenarios played out more successfully than others. The way Queen Elizabeth's parents helped England survive the Blitz is a matter of historical record, but so is Charles and Diana's messy split. In The Kids' Turn Way, Grandparents> (www.kidsturn.org), grandparents are reminded of their responsibility as the Tribal Elders in their family -- reassuring grandchildren that surviving the ups and downs of life is part of the collective family experience.

It cannot be an easy task raising the future King of England, but I think the odds are in this baby's favor to be loved and nurtured. The world is watching