The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Family

May 2, 2006

Apparently So parenting column by Craig Harris

Parenting is a tightrope. We don’t want to come across as dictators, because that usually backfires, but we cannot be our children’s best friends either, because they desperately need us to be their parents.

How do we do it? I fear some parents have given in to the temptation to become their children’s entertainers, making sure they are happy, satisfied, and busy every waking hour. But is this good parenting?

In fact, experts call this permissive parenting. It means parents give in to whatever they think their children want. They avoid conflict at all costs. It works for a while, but the results can be shattering when the children grow up to discover their teachers, bosses and spouses aren’t interested in whether or not they are entertained every moment.

It’s an easy trap into which to fall. Who wants to live in continual conflict? Isn’t life easier when everyone is happy? I struggle with this because I would rather entertain than discipline my children any day, but I also realize I am doing them no favors if I fail to instill some restraint in them.

Some parents take that restraint too far, however. Very strict, they run their house like a boot camp. he children are expected to follow all rules without question. Experts call this an authoritarian parenting style.

Many parents fall into this snare because they realize how important discipline is in a person’s life. They are hoping, perhaps, that the children will eventually learn to be self-disciplined and it will help them in life. The problem is, most children hate this style of parenting and will work hard to get around their parents’ rules and authority.

The parents may believe their children feel secure, surrounded by their fence of protection, but the children may actually feel insecure because they are afraid they are going to step out of bounds and face punishment because of it. Most authoritarian parents rely on punishment and not positive encouragement to discipline their children, and there is a difference.

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