“If we don’t handle this situation in exactly the same way, all is lost!”
Have you ever felt that way when it comes to parenting?
Sometimes we worry about consistency. And that makes sense – we want our kids to have feelings of general safety and not confusion when it comes to the rules.
However, as Dr. Charles Fay is known to say,
“More damage is done by our fighting over parenting styles than by being raised with differing styles.”
In other words, we don’t always have to be in lockstep and “on the same page” to raise great kids. Barring something abusive or truly harmful, we don’t need to battle each other to try to make sure we do everything the same way.
Here’s a question:
Will my son or daughter ever have teachers with different styles? Professors? How about managers or bosses?
Is it the worst thing for a child to learn that adults are different and might handle situations differently?
I don’t want to undermine the value of parents communicating, getting plans together and agreeing on important rules and values. I just want to give you a little relief from the worry that the world will suddenly stop spinning if we differ a little bit in our parenting styles. That is going to happen because we are unique individuals with unique strengths and gifts.
Check out one of our great audio resources When Your Spouse Has a Different Parenting Style.
Remember, the goal is to agree on the important stuff while preparing kids for the unpredictable twists and turns they will encounter in this life.
Three Parenting Styles
What are the different parenting styles? At Love and Logic, we have come across three styles of parenting:
Helicopter Parents hover over children and rescues them from the hostile world in which they live.
Drill Sergeant Parents command and direct the lives of children.
Consultant Parents provide guidance and consultant services for children.
Rescuing Our Society from Rescuing
Stories of the harmful effects of over-parenting and constant rescuing flood our news media. From parents contacting college professors to argue grades, to calling employers to lobby for their grown kids' raises, to suing schools for having the boldness to kick kids off sports teams for refusing to practice, to kids having no idea how to support themselves financially into their 30s… it is mind-boggling.
Jim Fay warned us about helicopter parenting way back in the 1970s and his words have proven true. Fewer young adults feel responsible for their own destinies and more of them are living at home without much ambition to leave. More grandparents are taking care of their kids' offspring… and their kids' debts.
At the Love and Logic Institute, we want to change the world. We want to help raise more responsible young people who are able to solve problems and take care of themselves out in the world. We know they can do it. All they really need are messages that say they can… and some practice.
If you wanted your child to play the accordion, but never allowed him or her to hold one (because it is too heavy), would you be surprised if he or she never got very good at it?
Often, we do the same thing with solving problems. Kids who never practice solving problems will not magically get better at it. They need repetitions working on and struggling with solving problems.
What if more adults resisted their urge to jump in and solve problems for kids? What if they said something like, "Wow, that's a tough one, but if any kid can figure it out, you can! Let me know what you decide to do."
Could our world use a few more kids who weren't rendered helpless by too much interference?
In part two of this series we will give you our parenting styles chart with ten characteristics of Helicopter, Drill Sergeant and Consultant Parents.