Parenting styles are like the ice cream choices at Baskin Robbins. There are lots of ‘em, and everyone has a fierce favorite.
But I see ditches, and as a result, children in the ditches as well, suffering from well-meaning parents who make horrible parenting choices.
There’s the Tiger Mom, who turned moms everywhere upside down with her article, “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.”
She is hard-core and I don’t agree with much of her philosophy, and though she says she nor her girls have been damaged by some of the techniques she uses, it’s hard to imagine that’s true.
But I agree with her on one thing:
Western parents have fairly lost their minds when it comes to their children and their self-esteems.
Because on the opposite end from Tiger Mom is the mother who gasped when my daughter (working in a preschool) told her 3-year old “no.” Not a harsh no, not a yelling no, just a firm “no.”
“She’s never heard that before. We embrace a parenting philosophy that doesn’t want her to have a negative view of herself. We don’t want her to think she has done something bad and “no” implies that.”
No, sister, your fairy princess will wake up in the real world some day (sooner than later, no doubt), and have an emotional break down because she is denied something flat out instead of being given a positive alternative.
Or she’ll have to go to therapy to deal with all the consequences of her bad decisions which she didn’t know existed until now.
There’s another trend, maybe not as harmful, but adds misery to a parent’s life:
Giving your toddler choices about everything.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge fan of growing our children up and helping them make age-appropriate decisions. But letting your 2-year-old have his own preference about every trivial decision in life is hair-pulling insanity for mother and child. Furthermore, it’s in these formative years that a child needs to know mom is in control, she is wise, and he can rest in that. Contentment can grow there.
We have to shake the shoulders of our younger mothers and help them learn to parent sensibly and biblically. Because these coddled children will grow up–not into adults–but into large people who demand to have all their large needs met and throw a large tantrum when they aren’t.
Our children aren’t as fragile as we think they are. They need to feel consequences, to lose, to fall down and to know there are good choices and bad ones. Life is full of “no’s” and we harm them to pretend it’s not.
We should expect more. We should expect them to be kind, respectful, obedient and responsible. And when they’re not, we should show them the problem with that and lead them to correct it.
I love my children. I want them to grow up to have compassion, to be tender and to love others. I want them to feel confident and strong. I want them to think wisely and make good choices. I think that’s what most parents want for their children. But that doesn’t negate my responsibility to be the parent, to love them by saying “no” when needed, and to tell them what is best for them until they are demonstrating wisdom to make their own choices.
I want to help them navigate through the bumps and trials of life with a graceful resilience that comes from discipline and a parent who loves enough to be honest about the world and teach his child to survive in it.