As a parent, I tend to be a very flexible, reasonable individual. My style of parenting is an easy go style. I ask my child for a lot feedback, and look forward to involving him in many decision-making processes. I look forward to educating through understanding, and “getting it.” I don’t want my son to do what I say because “I’m your father” and I say it, I want him to understand my thought processes! I want him to know why it is that he is being asked to do something. I want him to give me feedback, question, and learn to think on his own. I don’t want someone to simply do what I say, we are not raising robots here; we are raising what will hopefully become future good citizens of this earth.
In my view, a parent’s job is not to enforce a lifestyle or to force a kid to bend to their will, a parent’s job is to educate and to prepare the child to be able to make these decisions on their own. Teach them to do what they think is the right thing at that time even when the parent is not there!
Of course, there will be times when you have no choice but to strictly enforce rules, and there may be times when the child may not understand why they must comply. That’s fine too, but generally speaking, I do my best to make him understand why something is the way it is. Sometimes, believe it or not, we do know what’s best for the kid! Even when they completely disagree with you, however, these times are few and far in between.
I think that looking at the big picture at times I have been a bit too flexible. Those lessons have been hard learned through trial and error. See, there is no fool-proof formula for raising a kid, what works with one may not work with another. My son and I have a great relationship; we have a very open, trusting relationship. My son feels (and rightfully so) that he can tell me pretty much anything, and he knows that my reaction would never be unfair or unwarranted.
I remember a few years ago I was having dinner with a friend of mine; he is a Korean male, by the way, close to my age. He saw how me and my son interacted, and he was in shock. “You let him call you pops like that?” In his culture, (for the most part) and his own style of raising children is much more formal and strict. The parent is not a friend to the child; the parent is a parent! The parent is an authority figure to be obeyed and to set the rules. There is no “pops,” there is “Yes sir, No sir.” Though I respect his views, I strongly disagree with this method, I feel it creates an unbalanced individual. In a prior post, I covered the parenting styles, and I spoke about the “No consequence parent,” and the “I am God parent.” The perfect style, in my opinion, falls in the middle of these two, both extremes can cause trouble.
I recall one time I was at an amusement park, and a woman was screaming at her kid, dictating what she must and must not do. The screaming mother saw me observing, and she asked me if I had a problem. I looked at her with an impassive expression and replied “No. I don’t have a problem with you, but since you ask, I will say that I don’t approve of your parenting style.” We then entered into a heated debate about whether or not a parent should be a child’s friend. She insisted that we are not their friends, while I maintained that you can be an authority figure, and a parent while still having a great “friend-like” relationship with your child.
Like I said before, I think you have to find the balance between being an authority figure and being someone whom the child feels that they can talk to openly. If your child cannot talk to you, then one of two things will happen:
A) They will keep things bottled up, develop emotional and personality problems that will follow and affect them into adulthood.
B) They will seek the advice from people that are probably less qualified than you are to provide life advice.
Striking that balance is the key. However, I recognize that this is a very difficult thing to achieve.
This post is a brief overview of my parenting style and how I choose to do things with my son. This is not the be all end-all of parenting advice, and it certainly doesn’t cover all aspects of parenting. However, I think that if you honor some of my ideas, there is a good chance that you will raise a healthy, functioning member of society. I’m still working on it, but so far, so good!
What are your thoughts on parenting and how do you believe a child should be raised? There are so many variables to consider when raising a child, so many different angles to look at, and it can be overwhelming.
These days we have to consider single-parent homes, working parents, kids being raised by nannies, we have to consider same-sex parent homes. We have to consider homes where the parents are simply unfit to be parents, we have to consider foster homes and group homes, and every variation thereof.
Not only do you have to be concerned with these situations inside the home, but you must also consider the fact that there are many external factors as well. Drugs, gangs, prostitution, and a whole slew of other external factors have to be taken into account as we prepare the next generation.
Raising children today is not as simple as a mom and dad getting married, having a baby, going to work, the kids going to school, coming home, playing with the dog and doing some homework. There are so many other things to consider, and I cannot even begin to scratch the surface on this short post! Please do share some of your thoughts, tips, and any feedback you may have on this topic.
Growing Up Bronx
Please note the date on a post as it may be an old viewpoint. I keep old posts to show my evolution. The opinions and views expressed here are solely those of the author.