Ultra Strict, Overbearing, or Loose As a Goose: What Kind of Parent Are You?
by Stef Daniel
Remember when you were growing up and you always spent the weekend at your best friend’s house? Her parents were cool. They didn’t care how many sodas you drank, nor did they harass you about staying up too late. Your parents on the other hand were rule-riddling folks who had you abiding by every single one ever laid down, and the consequences of not doing so were harsh and reliable. As we grow up and become parents, many of us almost accidentally fall into our parents’ footsteps. We raise our children the way that they raised us and have certain deeply ingrained ideas about the role of children and adults in this world. If you had a mom who did everything for you, you probably do the same for your kids. If your dad was the ‘heavy’ in the house – there’s a good chance that’s how things in your own home now run as well. Still, every person at one point or another in their life makes a commitment to not end up like their own parents. This idle ode is what sets us apart from our parents and allows the mask of parenthood to grow and evolve through the generations.
Parenting styles vary. There is always much criticism and judgment involved in parenting. It seems that your neighbor, in-laws, or strangers at the store will make rash decisions about what kind of parent you are. The truth is you might not even really know yet. Parenting styles begin innocently enough. When your children cross the gateway from babyhood to toddlerhood, you realize that discipline and teaching life lessons becomes important. You are warned from every facet of life that not doing so will do nothing but raise the next generation of jailbirds. So, you begin buying parenting books and talking to other parents – watching family members and taking in information about what you think will work. You watch reruns of Nanny 911 and try all the tactics in the journey to becoming the best parent possible. Some of the techniques work, at least for a while – while others simply don’t. Your kid behaves like a raving lunatic on occasion and you question your parenting style. Perhaps you are too lax, then maybe you are too strict. Then you change again.
This is pretty much the parenting style that most parents adapt. Not because they want to, but because at some point adults, otherwise called parents, realize that their children will not be exactly as they expect them to be all the time. In fact, they will live up to your expectations rarely – yet surpass them often.
Many parents fancy themselves in a certain parenting style. They remain rigid and inflexible throughout their children’s lives. They treat every kid in their home exactly the same, not realizing that different personalities require different approaches. These are often the parents that many people admire from a distance, wishing that they too could be so strong and adamant in their ways. And yes, these parents may seem to have it together. Husband and wife may work as a perfect team and have the kind of life that makes the madness in your home look like insanity – but they are raising their kids, not yours. You have to realize that there is a very good chance the parenting style that you have adapted, which works for you and your family, is quite likely exactly perfect.
In today’s world too many people have become fixated on labels. We try to put ourselves in certain groups as a way to feel like what we are doing is acceptable. It’s as if we have to be ‘defined’ in order to be dignified in our parenting.
The interesting thing is that each day you are developing your own parenting style. It will be as different from other people’s as your kids and you are different. This doesn’t make it wrong or right. The large majority of parents work hard to effectively parent their children, seeing this word as a verb rather than a noun. After all, parenting is something we do. You might have some very stringent rules and parenting styles that you feel work for your children. They may be adapted partly from your own upbringing and partly from things you have learned from books and other professionals. And still, much of your parenting style is derived from your children and the very specific needs of their existence. The goal, in all parenting styles, is to teach children self-respect, respect for others, and the ropes of this world so they can be successful and most importantly, happy adults.
Some days, you may tie your toddler’s shoes rather than teach them how to do it themselves. You may allow them to sleep in your bed. You may bribe them by offering to buy them a toy as a result of good behavior. You might even forget to make them brush their teeth before bedtime (or just not want the hassle). None of these things flaw your parenting style or make you a lesser parent than someone else. Realizing that all moms and dads differ is vital to your own feelings of worth as a parent. What will strengthen your parenting style is understanding that you will make mistakes and remembering that no matter how much you read or how many ‘experts’ you listen to – they haven’t dealt with YOUR child yet and YOU are the expert on how to handle them.
The best parenting style is the one that works. Obviously, it has to combine discipline and consequences and must be effective with your children. It also must be strong enough to stand the test of time, yet flexible enough to withstand the winds of change that blow in so quickly when you are raising children.
What do you think? Ultra Strict, Overbearing, or Loose As a Goose: What Kind of Parent Are You?