I am a big believer in doing things intentionally. For far too long, I allowed things to happen TO me instead of making them happen. In fact, it was just last week I sat down with a trusted friend and went over a business plan that should take me through the next two years. It was important that I intentionally address the growth of my business, in the same way that it has been important I intentionally grow my children.
These little people with whom I have been entrusted, also trust me to provide them a safe environment, truth, honesty and respect. I don’t believe I consciously chose a parenting style when my children were younger and I don’t believe I will advise my oldest daughter to find one either.
Instead, what I did was to create my own parenting style. It was important not to use the same permissive style others of my generation tended to use as they raised their children. On the other hand, it was also important that I was not a strict authoritarian, without giving my children the chance to express themselves openly.
For years I heard my parents say, children are seen and not heard. Whether we had company over to the house, we were going out in public or my parents were spending an evening alone, children were seen and not heard.
On the other hand, I didn’t expect my children to be the ones who took over the conversations or interrupted adults as they were speaking. So I intentionally attempted to walk a middle road where the opinions of my children were valued and valuable, but my time and authority was respected.
Psychologists have identified four types of parenting. There is the authoritative parent who’s a strict disciplinarian with very little negotiation possible between parent and child. There’s a permissive parent who is indulgent and allows their children to do whatever they want, offering very little guidance or direction. There’s the uninvolved parent who gives their child a lot of freedom and stays out of their way, hoping that the child grows in a way the parent desires without getting involved in the decision-making themselves. And then there’s the authoritative parent, different from the authoritarian, who appears reasonable and nurturing, setting clear expectations and demonstrating self discipline themselves.
Before you can make a change in how you parent your child, it’s important to take a truthful look at the way you do it now. If you want to change, you’ll have to recognize that it will be easy to fall back into old habits. In other words, when things get tough it will be easier to become the permissive parent or the authoritarian again, rather than listen to your child or place limits on their actions. And, it’s important to understand no one person embodies the characteristics of one style. In other words, you may have bits and pieces of all four depending upon the situation and how much sleep you’ve had.
My children grew up understanding we had five important rules. These five very specific rules in the house had to be followed, and as long as their actions did not fall outside of those five rules, they could do or say whatever they wanted. Over time they learn to be independent thinkers and spent hours creatively debating with me how their actions fell within our house rules.
While those times were sometimes trying and often challenging, they were always appreciated by both of us. We spent time together learning each other’s belief systems and understanding each other’s temperament as we engaged in debate that didn’t end up with one person being right or wrong.
It’s critical . . .
to the health and wellness of your family, that you choose your own parenting style and you choose for your family. While psychologists would like us to all raise our children in a manner in which children grow up to be mentally and physically healthy, that isn’t always possible. The choices we make all have consequences, including the way in which we raise our children.
I have an acquaintance whose son is highly intelligent. He was bored in public school and so she and her husband looked long and hard for an educational option that would meet his needs and offer him the challenges he needed. She ended up sending her son to a college campus that offered a high school and college curriculum for gifted students. This worked for her and for her son.
On the other hand, it doesn’t have to work for everyone. In other words, if you have a gifted student it doesn’t mean you have to send them away but it does mean it’s important, even critical, that you challenge them in a way that helps them to grow.
While that seems fairly obvious when you’re dealing with a gifted student, the truth is, every student is gifted in one way or another and when we don’t challenge them and don’t offer them the opportunities to grow their talents and their gifts, then we are frustrating them as much as a gifted student might be frustrated in a regular classroom.
It doesn’t require hours of research and investigation, nor does it require days and weeks of your time, but it does require you are intentional about the time and energy you spend with your children. It does require that you take a truthful and honest look at your children to give them the best opportunities and offer them the greatest challenges so that they can grow into the best people that they can be.
So, as you consider the parenting style that you may or may not use today or the parenting style that you may or may not want to choose tomorrow, be sure you’re taking an honest and truthful look. It does no good to look at your children through rose-colored glasses, nor does it do your children any good to look at your parenting style through rose colored glasses. As you take these critical looks at parenting and your children, consider asking the subject of your analysis.
In other words, consider asking your children what they think and how they perceive how you are parenting them. I’ve done that several times over the years and it’s always an eye-opener to hear what my children have to say and what their perceptions are about my actions and my reactions to their behavior. It’s not always pleasant and it’s not always positive, but it always gives me the information I need in order to become the best parent I can be.
Being the best parent gives my children the best chance at becoming the best versions of themselves.