Updated: Jun 27, 2022
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. So just be a real one. Sue Atkins
The good life is best construed as a matrix that includes happiness, occasional sadness, a sense of purpose, playfulness, and psychological flexibility, as well as autonomy, mastery, and belonging. Robert Biswas-Diener
Nowadays, I see a lot of different parenting styles. I also see a lot of issues that arise from certain parenting styles. Child-led parenting is becoming more and more popular. While I don’t judge other people’s parenting (ok, that’s a lie, I totally do, just not usually out loud or publically). The tides are turning and parenting experts are starting to see the detrimental effect that “positive reinforcement”, “helicopter parenting” and “child-led parenting” is having on society. Maternal mental health issues are at an all-time high and experts are starting to link certain parenting styles with excessive mum-guilt, chronic fatigue and uncontrollable behaviour issues to name a few.
What is Helicopter Parenting
Well to summarise it, Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders says that helicopter parents are those parents who are overly focused on their children and take too much responsibility over their children's experiences and specially their successes and failures. Helicopter parents want to shield their child from failure and frustration and they overprotect them which ends up having the oposite effect as these children grow up to have low self esteem and feel lost in the world as they are unable to cope and end up having a lot of mental health issues.
What is Positive Reinforcement Parenting
Positive reinforcement can be beneficial if you know what you are doing and if it is something you integrate in your parenting guidance and education model but it is not a stand alone, well just my opinion anyway. Positive Reinforcement Parenting means that the parents use rewards to reinforce positive behaviour. Parents will reward a child for getting dressed, for brushing their teeth, basically for doing everything the child should be doing anyway. The problem is that the child gets used to being rewarding for every single action they do and should be doing as part of living and developing anyway. Another problem is that parents simply give stuff to these kids without much thought into it and without promoting expectation and giving something with meaning to the child. This can lead to lack of motivation later in life because lets fae it, life doesn't reward your every action
Christine Gross-Loh argues that positive reinforcement can be overused and thus lead children to become slaves to praise.
Children should learn that there are things that we just need to learn and do so we can lead a decent life.
What is child led Parenting
Well, as it say in the label the child leads the way. The child decides what they want to do, when they want to do it and how and the parent just follows and facilitates it.
Michael F. Mascolo, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts and wrote an article in Psychology Today arguing failures of child led parenting. Mascolo says that child led parenting runs the risk of producing entitled, narcissistic children who lack the capacity to persevere and cope with difficulty. This is because there is a fine line between being "loving" and being "indulgent".
So, how can we swing the pendulum back and take control of parenting and raise our kids so that they too are respectful, disciplined, mentally strong and ready to enter society as an adult?
Well, this isn't in any way a garantee of success but I do think it helps a lot with raising mentally strong children and keeping parents mental health in shape.
Have House Rules
Every household needs to have rules and your children should know those rules like the back of their hand. You should rarely have to remind them of the rules. Children should also know that the rules carry over to when they visit other people’s houses. Regardless of what their friends are allowed to do, our rules are clear and are respected or consequences will follow.
Consequences, not punishment.
Most of our house rules are simple, respect (be it to us, our property or to others) and common-sense.
Some basic rules we have set are;
• you are your brother's keeper - right there with respecting your parents, this is very important I need to be sure they will have each others back, parents aren’t going to be around forever and they need to have a safety net and who better to be that than their siblings? They need to have someone that makes them feel at home and relaxed
•respect yourself- teach your child that if they don’t respect themselves no one will. People will treat you the way you allow them to and if you don’t have respect for yourself then you won’t have boundaries and won’t set boundaries either
•you don’t ask for food at other people’s houses - that’s just my thing you can skip over this one 😊
•you use your manners - not only please and thank you but tone of voice and facial expressions are very important and I do not let it go. Fix your face and say it again nicely with a kind voice are my constant go to remarks to children
•don’t get involved in adult’s conversation - one of my favourites. There’s nothing else to say. Children should not be listening and butting in in adult talk. My children, to this day, when I have friends over, will say hello to my friends or guests and disappear. Every single one of my friends used to think it’s weird and even thought they were not sociable enough but I’ve explained that they have 'that old school education;. They know that when mum is with her friends they don’t need to be around. They don’t need to get involved in grownup stuff. They are very much social butterflies.
• do not interrupt me when I’m talking to my friends unless someone is dead or dying
• respect your elders
• do not talk back - especially in front of others - do not disrespect me in front of other people and in turn I will grant you the same courtesy
There’s so many rules you can have that will be helpful for your children and give you peace of mind.
See the point is…children need rules, boundaries, guidance and most of all consistency. The world... heck, life is a complicated thing and children will inevitably have to follow rules, they’ll be given guidelines and instructions at school, and work and such. We as parents have to prepare them for life. Prepare them to be able to manoeuvre and negotiate whatever life throws at them in order for them to prosper and live long and fulfilling lives. Parenting is not supposed to be choosing the easiest option for you. Parenting is about making decisions that will benefit the child in the long run. So make a road map of what type of person you'd like your child to be and try to be consistent. Make sure you allow a little bit of every emotion to enter your child's life and help them learn to cope with it. Let children experience a bit of furstration, a bit of sadness, failure, achievements, happiness, confusion, anger and reward and whatever else. And do not forget to teach your child to self regulate. As Proverbs says “Train up a child in the way they should go and even when they are old they will not depart from it.”