The post I wrote yesterday about being a mean mom by insisting my kids do things for themselves is gaining more traction than any post I have written in quite some time. I am excited about that, but it is also creating a little controversy, as parenting posts often do. (OK, it was only one negative comment amidst a sea of positive ones, but I know there are others who feel the same way.)
Many people agree with me, fellow mean moms who feel that giving their children responsibility and fostering independence from a young age are important. There are others who think my approach is harsh, who find joy in serving their kids by doing a majority of the work for them, thus allowing them to be kids for as long as possible.
I am here to tell you that, while I do have strong opinions on how I want to raise my own children, I do not believe that either way is universally correct for every family.
I have done a great deal of studying about personality types in recent months, and one thing is for sure: we are born with certain tendencies because God wired our brains that way. We perceive and react to the world based on that unique wiring, which affects things from thought and feeling processes to learning and parenting styles, and everything in between.
Those who fall on the more emotional and nurturing side of the personality scale may not be comfortable with the tough-love approach to parenting that I often espouse. Likewise, those who naturally place a high priority on the values of responsibility and independence in all aspects of their human experience (that would be me) may feel that doing too much for a child could thwart the development of those values that are deeply intrinsic and vital to them. In either case, I think parents should listen to their instincts and do what feels right to them, regardless of what others are doing.
Sure, we can go overboard on either end of the spectrum, from helicopter parenting to dictatorship, so we may need to moderate our instincts if we are prone to extremes. However, I know fabulous, loving, attentive parents who are raising competent, capable children on both sides of this issue and everywhere in between. The dynamic of every family is different, and, consequently, there cannot be only one correct way to raise a child. Having studied Family Science in college, I know that authoritative parenting is the ideal, but, once again, that can look different for different people.
I am not an expert. I am right there in the parenting trenches with all of you, trying to figure it out as I go. I do believe that we can learn from each other, which is why I chose to share where I stand, and will continue to share extensions of my parenting philosophy in the future. My approach seems to be going well for my family, so take that for what it is worth. I will not apologize for my position because I believe in its value.
If you agree with me, great. If you don’t, that’s OK; take my thoughts with a grain of salt and do what your heart tells you is best for your family. But please understand that there is NO JUDGEMENT on my part for those who parent differently than I.
I think we can all reasonably assume that most parents are doing the best they can with the hand that life has dealt them and the unique personality combinations amongst their kids. We can support each other in our differences in parenting styles without assuming negative intent. We can avoid jumping to conclusions without knowing another’s heart.
We are all in this together.