The Parenting Balances

Finding balance in response to children's opposing needs

About recognizing and enduring tension fields in parenting. And optimizing your responses to the child's conflicting needs.

Time to complete
5 h 10 min

About this course

Being allowed to guide a child or young person towards adulthood requires both art and skill. Your own attitude to life plays an important role, the tone in which you speak, the way you move and, above all, the baggage you bring with you from your own childhood and life. You can learn from every interaction with a child. In this sense, parenting is also always educating yourself. 

For a while, educators thought that more of the good would also be better: the more obedient a child, the better; or conversely, the freer we let a child be, the better. Today, we know that even the 'good' behaviours like 'unconditional acceptance' can lead to big problems if they are applied unilaterally for too long. After all, a child needs guidance and boundaries in addition to acceptance. 

The premise of the Double Healix approach, on which this course is based, is that good parenting is always about reconciling conflicting processes. This course is therefore called Double Healix Parenting Balances. The aim of the course is to introduce you to thinking and acting from the perspective of fields of tension and conflicting needs in the child.

In the course, we distinguish six areas of tension within which a parenting balance is sought. Essentially, it is about learning to balance and reconcile the most important areas of tension in all of humanity. The areas of tension are recognised worldwide in different types of research, such as in the cultural research by Fons Trompenaars and in the global personality research of the Hexaco model. 

We have developed these six areas of tension in the Double Healix model for the benefit of pedagogy. The idea is that if educators offer a healthy balance, children and young people themselves will be better able to balance conflicting basic qualities.

The course consists of six chapters in total, each covering one Parenting Balance. We discuss the Parenting Balances through examples from feature films and documentaries. We will also offer reflection questions and exercises. 

From this online course you will be able to take away:

- an even sharper sense of perception,

- appealing examples of how to find balance and sometimes how not to do it, perhaps,

- new concepts for balanced parenting,

- an occasion for a good conversation with fellow educators or colleagues and the exchange of experiences.

The course can be taken as a stand-alone training, but is also regularly used in youth welfare organisations in combination with live master classes led by our Double Healix trainers.

The course is designed to provide you as a parenting support worker, social worker, behavioural specialist, educator, family therapist, etc. with various theoretical and practical tools. Educators themselves can also benefit from this course, noting that we also discuss examples of major parenting challenges.



The Double Healix model distinguishes six Parenting Balances. The first is the most basic and involves the balance between unconditional acceptance of a child and setting limits. The other parenting balances that are being discussed involve the balance between acting and empathy, between harmony and processing pain, between variety and identity, between status and integrity and, finally, between self and others. In this c...


1. Acceptance and Restrictions

The first balance described in the Double Healix model concerns the tension field between acceptance and restrictions. It is about how, as educators of children and adolescents, we can strike a balance between what we accept from the children and where and how we set boundaries. For the sake of the child, but also for our own sake. In the deepest sense of parenting, this concerns the question of the degree of civilisation...

Balancing chaos and order

The accepting, welcoming side of the balance

The order side of the balance

The struggle to set boundaries

The paradox of steering with a free rein (indirect steering)

Foster parenting, balancing closeness and distance

The horse boy

Concluding remarks chapter 1

2. Action and Empathy

The second balance described in the Double Healix model concerns the tension field between action and empathy. In this chapter, we provide an overview of the main contrasts that require a balance between assertiveness and the ability to empathise with another being. We show different variations, but ultimately they boil down to the tension between being active and passive, between speaking and listening, between taking ac...

Encouraging initiative and paying close attention and following suit

The assertive, competitive side of the balance

The empathy and sense of responsibility side of the balance

Active waiting

Empowering by asking for help

From depression to initiative and taking responsibility

Helping to channel anger and impulsive unrest

A serious incident and guiding to responsibility

Concluding remarks chapter 2

3. Harmony and Pain

The third balance described in the Double Healix model concerns the tension field between harmony and pain. This chapter deals with various parenting situations in which the pursuit of harmony is contrasted with living through grief and suffering. It involves the balance between covering up feelings of pain to promote harmony, on the one hand, and opening up these feelings to process them, on the other. The side of harmon...

Harmoniously resolving worries

The harmony side of the balance

The painful side of the balance

Positive attitude to life and risk of outsourcing pain

Comforting rituals: alternating harmony and pain

Denial and showing urgency

Feelings of quilt

Your own feelings as an educator

Concluding remarks chapter 3

4. Variety and Identity

The fourth balance described in the Double Healix model concerns the tension field between variety and identity. In this chapter, we discuss Parenting Balance 4. From the perspective of young people, it involves, on the one hand, practicing variations, being curious, and playful, and on the other hand, making a serious choice, bringing focus, and forming an identity. From the perspective of caregivers, it concerns the ten...

Developing unity in diversity

The variety side of the balance

The identity-side of the balance

Identifying blockages and broadening self-image

Different is normal, but normal is also special

Similarities and differences

If you want to achieve something, you will have to practice

Questions and exercises

Concluding remarks chapter 4

5. Status and Integrity

The fifth balance described in the Double Healix model concerns the tension field between status and integrity. In this fifth chapter we discuss the balance between, on one hand, helping to develop conscience, character, honesty, and courage, and on the other hand, helping to build skills to survive in a world that often - alongside all its beauty, love, and benevolence - can also be ruthless, characterless, threatening,...

Balancing status and integrity


Fuelling ambition and achievement

Strictness and the fair hierarchy

No easy way out

Balancing horizontal and vertical communications

Need for justice

Pick your battles


Concluding remarks chapter 5

6. Self and Other

The sixth balance described in the Double Healix model concerns the tension field between 'myself' and 'other beings'. We live in a time of great change. The consumer society is coming to an end, globalization has peaked, digitalization, AI and robotisation advance rapidly and work needs to be redistributed. Young people are bombarded with more information than ever before, but also misinformation. Social media offer a vi...

The Self side: self-expression, getting attention and appreciation

The Other-side: helping, giving, compassion and gratitude


Every inner victory is a gift to the world

In and out of self-inflation

The paradox: helping yourself by helping others


A community of shared experiences

Infinitely large and infinitely small

Questions and exercises

Closing remarks

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