What is your parenting style? Are you strict or lenient? Do you expect your kids to follow everything you say or do you promote freedom of expression in your home? Is it possible to be a healthy mix of both?
I remember a Hollywood movie where the main character is a widower who runs into his high school sweetheart who was also a widow. The moment they set eyes on each other, they felt as if they were in high school all over again. They rush into marriage not realizing that their families were as different as night and day. The man was a strict disciplinarian who run things like a drill sergeant while the woman was an artist who let her kids do whatever they want. The movie clearly depicted the dangers of staying at just one end of the parenting spectrum.
According to Lisa Earle McLeod, author of The Triangle of Truth, there are two extreme sides to parenting – permissiveness and authoritarianism. Some parents are the free-to-be-you types who just allow their children to express their uniqueness in whatever way they want. For them, it is important they always treat their children special.
On the other hand, there are those parents who are like commanders in the army who believe that special treatments are only for losers. They expect kids to always abide by the rules and they give no allowances for mistakes.
All parents have their own style of raising kids, and they usually believe that their style is the only way to perfect parenting. But McLeod argues that parenting is not an either-or-mentality. She wants parents to understand the importance of mastering the “art of AND”.
The right combination
Children need unconditional love and discipline. They need to have support as well as guidance. They need to know that their parents are the boss but they also want to be given room to grow and to make their own decisions. She said that it’s not about making compromises but about making the right combinations.
This kind of thinking is interesting and challenging. Do you agree with McLeod’s point? Is it possible to be both supportive and strict? How can you apply McLeod’s theory in your current parenting style?