There are many philosophies when it comes to parenting and how you should raise your kids. You can’t actually reduce parenting to a few universal rules, as parents are all a little different, as are their children. Still, there are issues that most parents have to deal with at one time or another, and it can be helpful to look at some responses that often prove effective.
Whereas some parents practice a strict, authoritarian type of parenting, while others are very permissive, the ideal middle ground is what’s sometimes called authoritative parenting. Parents who are authoritarian expect obedience without any questions asked, but those who are authoritative will take the time to explain the reasons for the rules and limits. The authoritative parent recognizes the need for rules, but balances this out with the willingness to have open dialogues with the child. A child who grows up in an overly permissive household will often lack direction in life, but one whose parents are overly strict may have trouble thinking for himself. There’s nothing wrong with giving your kids freedom, but it has to be tempered with a recognition that they’re still kids and need some limits.
An unfortunate decision that many parents make is borrowing the parenting skills that they experienced from their parents. Now, in some rare cases, this isn’t a problem, but this is only if you had the ideal parents who made no mistakes. As is probably the case with you, you had well-intentioned parents that didn’t always make the best possible decisions. Our objective should be to do a much better job than our parents ever did for the sake of our children. If you’re parents were horrible at discipline, you should do your best to not repeat the mistakes that they made.
As a parent today, it can be tempting to organize every moment of your child’s life. Children that are not allowed to make decisions on their own very much end up becoming less self-sufficient than others that are more independent. You obviously don’t want to leave young children unsupervised, but there’s nothing wrong with letting them come up with their own games and forms of entertainment. It’s also healthy for children to learn to spend some time outdoors, in unstructured settings (aside from sports leagues and the like), and not spend every free minute in front of the TV or computer. By doing this, your kids will appreciate you later on in life as they become more mature.
Being a good parent is more of an art than a science, as you’ll always find new situations that aren’t described in any book. But if you work with a solid set of guiding principles, you can usually make the right decision, or at least avoid making any serious mistakes. Remember, however, that as a parent you can guide your children and make rules for them to follow, you also have to recognize that they are individuals who will one day make their own decisions.
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