In this life, becoming a parent is the dream of many. These dreams can soon become challenges, however, as the brutal reality of raising another human being sets in. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs anyone will take one, and it’s one of the least rewarding too. Still, you have to strive to raise happy children that go into the world as well-adjusted adults. How can you manage that? By digging deep and finding the line between firmness and friendship.
There’s no one right or wrong way to parent. A lot of it comes down to the child that you find yourself with. Some children are more sensitive and perceptive than others. The other side of that, though, is finding a path to raising someone who is secure in themselves and secure in your love for them. We can accomplish this with honesty, compassion, and a firmness that reconfirms our care for the future of our children. Want to raise the perfect child? That will never happen, but you can find better ways to parent them.
Not all parenting styles are created equally.
We are living through interesting times, and within that are a number of different philosophies on the “right” and “wrong” ways to parent. Some parents are freewheelers who give their children the keys to the kingdom. Others are domineering authoritarians who loom large over their children’s existences like dictators. There are a thousand different ways to be a caretaker to someone, but not all of them are created equally (and not all of them result in ideal adult children).
Some parenting styles (like that of the authoritarian or the overly permissive parent) can result in children — and therefore adults — who are insecure, needy, or otherwise uncomfortable in who they are. Likewise, more balanced and positive parenting styles work to create a fine balance of personal responsibility and self-recognition.
Do you want your children to have a healthy dose of honesty? Do you want them to explore who they are and accept what they find with love? These are aspects that you must encourage in them. They exist naturally, but you must foster their bloom like a careful gardener. Be a firm friend. Be a gentle nest pusher. There are different approaches for different parents and different children. Be honest about who you are and who they are too.
The parenting styles that create well-adjusted adults.
There’s no one straight road when it comes to being a parent. All types of styles are needed to accomplish the tasks that come up over the lifetime of your responsibility. Some styles of better suited to encouraging children to grow into well-adjusted adults, however. Differing from authoritarian and permissive styles — these parenting habits seek to find the middle ground and foster an environment of security and curiosity.
The Firm Friend
The “Firm Friend” is an interesting parenting style and not one that is suited to everyone. This parent proves time-and-time again that they’re present for their children, but they also have no problem putting the pressure down when it’s time to get on track. The relationships they build are characterized by the child-parent relationship in which there is no substantial fear in expressing needs, concerns, fears, or mistakes. It’s a safe and fun relationship, and a supportive one at that.
The Nest Pusher
The “Nest Pusher” is a type of parent who combines both old-world ideasand modern techniques. They are always pushing their child closer and closer to the edge of the nest with numerous responsibilities, but never give their child more than they can handle. Beyond that, they don’t expect more than a basic sense of responsibility. They ensure that there is always a safety net there to catch the child. They also always ensure the child’s personal health and interests come before their “work”. It comes down to wanting their child to have a healthy sense of the world throughout their upbringing.
The Avid Adventurer
The third positive parenting type may incorporate elements of both of the above parenting style, but it also takes an even more altruistic approach. The “Avid Adventurer” is the parent who instills a love for the planet and a love for travel and culture in their children. They encourage their childrento love the planet that they’re on and to nurture it. You may find that they raise compassionate individuals who learn to not only love the planet, but to see the greater connection between us all.
The Understanding Anchor
There is no parenting style more powerful than the “Understanding Anchor”. This is the parent who always keeps their child grounded in reality, yet who is always there with empathy, compassion, and love. Their children come to them for advice because they know they are safe, and they know the information is sound and unbiased. The parent remains a point of moral reference and friendship throughout life, always bringing the child back to a sense of their basic self.
How to change (or improve) your parenting style the right way.
Do you want to become a better parent? Or do you want to prepare yourself to build up a happy and well-adjusted home? You can do this through honesty, some internal work, and by reaching out to those who know more than you do. Building a family is a science of the mind and the heart. Combine both and you can find your secret recipe for loving success.
1. Be honest about where you’re at
Before you can change or improve your parenting style, you first have to be honest about where your parenting beliefs sit in the moment. What kind of parent are you in this moment? What kind of parent do you want to be? Imagine the perfect parent that you wanted as a child, or parent that your child has expressed a desire for (either consciously or subconsciously). Who are you compared to that parent?
Look for points of improvement that can be made. Where are your shortcomings as a parent? What parenting memories make you feel bad or guilty about the way you handled certain situations? These are the points where we find the most room to grow. Start there. How can you improve these negative points and better connect with your child?
Admitting to a shortcoming is not admitting to a flaw. It’s simply a skill you have to work harder on improving. None of us is perfect in anything that we do — we all have things to work on both in parenthood and our outside lives. Accept the growth challenge so that you can create an efficient action plan that works for you and the family you are trying to build.
2. Educate yourself (even more)
When it comes to being a parent, you are on a never-ending learning journey. No one single person has all the parenting information, but we can all learn from one another’s journeys. Instead of assuming that you know it all because you’re doing things the way your parents did, or you managed to keep a child alive for 10 years — always be hungry for improvement and discussion. Educate yourself even more than you already have and look to the experiences of other parents for guidance.
If you’re struggling with your role as a caretaker, then it’s time to arm yourself with more knowledge than you possess. Read books and articles. Reach out to trusted friends and family members with children of their own. Question their process and look for ideas that make sense to you. There’s nothing wrong with looking for ideas in the actions of others. It doesn’t make you any less of a parent. In fact, it could make you a better one.
Remember to view this process first through the perspective of the child. Before taking the advice of any parent, look to their children. Do they seem like truly happy, creative, thriving individuals? Are they loved as they are and are they allowed to be the child that they are? Don’t follow the advice of those who don’t look to build an authentic parent-child relationship that is based around mutual respect, compassion, and basic empathy.
3. Talk to professionals
Self-education can only take us so far as parents, especially if we’re dealing with children that we don’t personally understand. In these instances, the respectable thing to do is to reach out to a professional who can better pinpoint the information (and therefore action) that you need to take. Improvement isn’t always as easy as reading an article and then trying to adjust our state of mind. We need people to help us, and we need them to specialize in our issues.
Don’t beat yourself bloody against a wall that you struggle to understand. Find someone with more experience than you. Find someone who has spent years dedicating their lives to helping people just like you get back on track to happiness as a family. There is no longer any shame in reaching out to family relationship professionals.
Spend some time considering your issues with honesty, then look for someone who deals specifically in those issues. Family therapy is more accessible than ever, and that is true no matter your income or where your family struggles might lie. Stop denying the inevitable and skip to the part where you get the help that you need in order to thrive within yourself as a parent and caretaker. If what you’re doing isn’t enough, reach out to someone who is trained to help.
4. Don’t hide from your child
One of the biggest mistakes that a parent can make is that of hiding who they are from their child. Although we spend a great deal of time as children ourselves, we seem to forget what it felt like to watch our own parents deny the obvious. We seem to forget also the resentment that we felt, and the contempt, when we asked them important questions only to get dismissive or condescending answers.
Start being a better parent by dropping all the lies and subterfuge. You’re not helping maintain their innocence. They will see who you are, so don’t pretend to be something that you aren’t. Be honest with your child and candid with them too. They don’t need to know every detail, but they don’t need to have their intelligence insulted either.
Your child is a person, and while their perceptions of life and relationships will change — their intelligence and ability to process information is still extremely high. Don’t demand of them what you obviously don’t have the courage to ask of yourself. Don’t expect them to save you by performing the tasks you failed in your own life. Stop hiding from your child and they’ll stop hiding from you. None of us is perfect, and pretending otherwise is reckless.
5. Break the cycles once and for all
Parenting is a funny thing, and it tends to be something which cycles generation-after-generation through families. Chances are, you’re parenting your children exactly like you were parented — either consciously or subconsciously. On the converse, you may consciously be doing the extreme opposite (out of contempt and resentment). Extremes don’t work in parenting, though. We break cycles by finding the middle way.
You have to be the one to break the generational cycles of abuse, trauma, and disconnect that run through you and your line. You have to be the one who says, “Enough!” and means it. That happens through mindfulness, but it also happens through intentional action.
Don’t commit to one style of parenting and insist on that style forever. Be fluid. Be flexible. Know that you will change and your child will change too. These changes (both physical and emotional) will shape who you are and what you need and want from one another. Look at this responsibility as a dance; one with many varied rhythms and paces. Take your time and get comfortable in the natural movement of the process.
Putting it all together…
Parenting is one of the most challenging jobs in the world — and one of the most important, too. More than simply taking care of another person, to be a parent is to foster a life that will one day go out into the world to touch thousands of others. Some parenting styles are more suited to accomplishing this task, while others aren’t. Finding the balance depends on who you are, and who your child is.
Be honest about where you’re at in your parenting journey and the outdated beliefs that are holding you back. There’s no one single right or wrong way to parent, but there are some ways which are better than others. Educate yourself, and reach out to those trusted individuals who have gone through or are going through what you are. You can never stop learning enough as a parent, and your learning journey will never end. Reach out to professionals and get an even more experienced point of view. There are all types of family relationship experts who can help us at any stage of our journey as caretakers. Above all, however, don’t hide from your child. Our children can see who we are. Embrace this and encourage them to be better in who they are individuals.