Happy New Year! The start of a new year is a practical time for reflection and fresh starts so I thought I'd change up the direction of my blog a tiny bit. My plan for the next little while is to do some blog entries in the form of a parenting workbook called "Surviving & Thriving as a Parent.... A Workbook for Family Harmony". I hope these entries will serve as opportunities for reflection on our parenting techniques, offer tips, and help us develop some healthy goals for our families. So let's get started....... I really welcome your feedback, editing, comments, stories, and input. Don't be shy; share your experiences and thoughts if you wish.
Effective parenting requires reflection, introspection, flexibility and resilience. We have to look back on where and how we learned to be parents, and our experiences and values definitely influence and help us chart the course for where we want to go now with our children.
How were we parented?
Do we carry any baggage from our own childhoods? How are we triggered today from those experiences?
How has society changed with respect to parenting since we were young?
How would we like to parent our children?
What are our goals?
What are our values?
First let's take a look at three main styles of parenting:
THE AUTOCRATIC PARENT - severe, controlling, seeks child's submission; emphasizes obedience, rules and order. Children are constantly being controlled and don't learn to think for themselves. They may misbehave when they think no one is watching. They may respond with aggression or helplessness, and /or be withdrawn
THE PERMISSIVE PARENT - difficulty setting and/or maintaining limits, rules and healthy routines; wants to be child's friend; oscillates between indulgent and strict parenting to cope with child's behaviour. Essentially, the child is in charge. These children may have difficulty accepting "no" in relationships and may be less than considerate of the feelings of others. They may behave immaturely and potentially lack self-control.
THE DEMOCRATIC PARENT - sets clear rules, limits, expectations and routines; communicates with kindness , warmth, openness and respect; remains flexible while setting consequences that teach; encourages child to assert their feelings, needs, and beliefs; practices problem solving with their child. These children grow up understanding the "give and take" of relationships. They learn to think for themselves and consider their needs and the needs of others.
Sometimes as parents, we may alternate between these three styles of parenting based on the specific challenge or situation, our own stress levels and the "goodness of fit" between us and our child. By "goodness of fit", I am referring to how similar or different your personality and temperament are to your child's.(e.g. introvert versus extrovert, active versus more sedentary, intense versus more relaxed, etc.). You may be consciously trying to be a democratic parent for the most part but when you get triggered or stressed you revert back to your factory settings i.e. the way you were parented as a child. You might hear your own parents exact words slip out of your mouth: "Do it because I said so", or, on the flip side, "you don't need a curfew, I trust you honey". Have a look at your interactions with your family and examine what type of parenting you practice currently. I love the way the authors of "Raising Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers" put it... "Do you want to parent by chance or by choice?" All the best, Joanne.