I’ve already written a two-part blog about “How to Get Your Child to Listen,” but today I’m going to dive even deeper into the idea of parenting styles. Which one is best? Which one are you?
First of all, get rid of the common notion that there are TWO kinds of parents: strict/authoritative, and relaxed / maybe a little too lackadaisical. But in fact, there are as many different types of parenting styles as there are parents!
I bet I’m about to blow your mind here…The reason both types of parents get it wrong is, neither of their kids learns SELF-discipline.
Of course, the reason why the children of overly relaxed parents don’t learn to discipline themselves is more obvious. They don’t face consequences of their actions, so why would they ever step back and learn to moderate and control themselves? Well, they won’t!
But what about the direct opposite when it comes to parenting styles? You may be thinking, “Sure, maybe being a super strict parent isn’t the best thing in the world, but how would it ever prevent a child from being DISCIPLINED?”
Yes, but when they’re guided and forced in a certain direction by such a strong hand, they don’t learn to think for themselves…or the difference between right and wrong. They just learn, “These are the decisions that won’t get me in trouble.” So THEY don’t learn self-discipline either, because they’re just trying to avoid consequences.
They don’t really learn how to make good decisions when everything has been decided for them!
So that means, rather than these two parenting styles, the best one is one that teaches your child how to “parent themselves” in the end! That’s the objective, right?
Easier said than done?
Not really! I think it’s completely doable, and the way to walk the line between the two parenting styles is to provide structure and rules, but also provide options and freedoms.
When I say provide structure, I mean have a daily routine and timetable; for example, a time when they’re used to doing chores or homework. But maybe you still provide a three-hour window, and you give them the choice of whether to play first or get their work done first within that window. That way, they are still provided with a framework to learn from that helps them become disciplined…but they also make their own decisions and learn the consequences of, for example, playing for too long and not getting their work done!
I think the other really important part of balancing between these two parenting styles is being very good about EXPLAINING your rules.
Some parents say, “Rules are rules,” and while I think in a sense that is a valuable lesson for their kids (because not all rules make sense in real life…), it doesn’t help them truly understand the importance of rules. Y’know? So you should definitely enforce rules, just like the strict parent. But unlike them, don’t answer “Why?” with, “Because I said so.”
That’s not really a compelling argument. I mean, what if I told you, “Both strict and overly relaxed parenting styles aren’t very good,” and you asked “Why?” and I said, “Because I said so?” 😉
Which of these parenting styles do you think YOU are closer to? Do you see the value of combining both, or do you think there’s an even better way? Let me know in the comments!