Once you become a parent, one of the first questions you will face is, “What type of parent will I be?” Perhaps the only experience you have had is watching how your parents raised you. You may think they did a pretty good job and feel like copying them. Or maybe you have totally different ideas and want to do the parenting thing your way. But of course your partner has other ideas. So what’s to be done?
Some new parents take the approach of let’s see what happens. They take the pragmatic approach. When something happens I’ll figure out a response and if that works then fine. If it doesn’t work I’ll try something else. Now this may not be as silly as it seems. Many new parents have a wonderful plan and goals on how they will parent their child only to find that the theory and the practice are poles apart.
One thing you and your partner must get absolutely clear – two different styles will almost certainly end in tears. A child sees his or parents as authority figures. If one is strict and rigid and the other carefree and of the ‘anything goes’ variety, the child will be confused. The parents will be confused and life will not be fun. Agree on a joint strategy.
And just because your best friend uses a parenting style which is brilliant with their offspring, that style may not work at all with your child. Remember every child is unique and you need to take their personality and abilities and characteristics into the equation.
The first things you must have are boundaries. Kids need to know the difference between good and bad, about what they can do and what is not allowed. These boundaries need to be clear and well signed and with the boundaries come the rewards and punishments if the boundaries are respected or crossed.
The next big issue is giving in or not to the angry child. Kids are very good at manipulating their parents. If they want something and don’t get it, they may throw a temper tantrum. Now if that tantrum works, if the child gets what they want, have a guess what has been stored in the child’s brain for later? Remember that kids are pretty smart – dare we say smarter than their parents? So you need to have a policy on reacting to bad behavior. As the saying goes, start the way you mean to finish.
Remember that theory and practice don’t always coincide. You might have set out some guidelines, some rules and boundaries. Then comes a time when you are ill, when you are behind in your work and the weather is so bad the kids have been stuck indoors for hours. This might mean you forget the parenting style just to get some peace. Be prepared to be flexible on some occasions.
Remember too that kids grow up and this means your parenting style may change and your relationship with your kids may do likewise. Whatever your parenting style, remember that love will never go out of style.
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