What Does it Mean to be a Strong Parent?
Many people think being a strong parent means to be in control.
Or it means that your kids listen and obey you because they know your word is law.
It means that when you say no it is final.
…and the list goes on.
The way I look at things, the strength of my parenting is determined by its effects.
What is my daughter learning?
How is our relationship developing?
What attitudes is she acquiring?
How happy is she?
How much does she love and trust herself
… and the list goes on!
If You Play With Fire You’re Gonna Get Burned… Or Are You?
When my daughter wanted to play with matches and experiment with lighting fires, I didn’t say no.
I took it as an opportunity to teach her about fire safety
and the responsibility of handling dangerous situations.
We made a game of burning things together.
It was full of fun, learning and bonding.
So as she grew up she never felt the need to hide her desire to burn something from me and we always did it together, because she knew I was a safe place to express herself. This comfort carries over into other areas of our relationship. She is open with me about most aspects of her life because she knows that whatever she shares with me she won’t be judged or corrected.
An Opportunity to Develop Skills
Through playing and learning with fire she also now has developed the skill of evaluating the danger of a situation or desire and responding appropriately. This is a much better outcome than if I had been a traditional “strong parent” and just said no.
In fact that is not actually strong parenting!! It does not teach or guide, it only controls. I might do that to a dog who is chewing up my newspaper, but not to a human whose growth and development I’m responsible for!
When I was growing up my parents told me it was wrong to play with fire and wouldn’t let me. This didn’t stop me; it just made me find ways to do what I wanted without them knowing!! (did your parents saying “no” stop you from doing something you really wanted to do?)
Communicating is Always Better Than Controlling
When kids are controlled they do not learn to reason and understand,
they only learn to obey, and usually not even that.
It’s not hard to imagine that a young person who is told no for something they want to do will find a way to do it. The goal then becomes how to not get caught.
Granted there is some critical and creative thinking involved in trying to escape detection from your parents and not get in trouble, but is that really the relationship we want with our kids?
They certainly and quickly learn that there are some things that they should not share with their parents if they want to continue to receive our approval. So they learn to be false with us. They actually create a fake personality that they know will fit in with our expectations.
No thanks, I want my kid to be honest with me, to be real with me and to know that it is safe.
Friendship Based Parenting is Not Weak
That is why I choose to be my kid’s best friend.
We treat our friends with the kind of respect
that is rarely seen between parents and kids.
The idea that we can’t be our kid’s best friend,
that we have to be a “strong parent”
that we have to be in control
is an ancient and outmoded idea that just doesn’t work.
We Can Evolve
I know my parents did their best with what they had, but I want more.
I want to parent my daughter on a deeper level than I was parented.
This isn’t putting my parents down, it’s evolving.
In fact I’m giving them deep respect and honour by evolving beyond what they did.
I am never satisfied with the past for it’s always possible to improve.
It is only when we are courageous enough to evolve our understanding
To alter ourselves and our patterns
that our families, our relationships, our communities and the world will change.
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