What is your parenting style? Are you strong -- a believer in tough love -- or are you more of a softie when it comes to teaching responsibility and disciplining your child? Or like me, are you wondering if it's even possible to walk the line between both modern day strategies and still be an effective parent?
|Hubbie & kids in Prague, Czech Republic, Summer 2012|
For sure having two girls and two boys that are all so close in age does present its challenges. I find that issues and problems do indeed vary by gender in our household and because my kids were born very close together these bumps in our family life can be magnified three- and four-fold at times. The resulting ways I end up deciding how to handle things cover the full spectrum, too, depending on my own mood at the time as well as who did what and under what circumstances.
Anyone who has ever raised a daughter or son, including my own dear mother who tolerated my teenage angst, knows that kids this age don't always do what you want them to do. Along with the daily annoyances and conflicts I find myself constantly making a conscious intervention, trying to keep my cool, to not to be unreasonable. After all I do have a lot to be thankful for. My children are overall good kids, law-abiding citizens, hard-working students, and dedicated community volunteers. Nevertheless to say everything is perfect would not be telling the whole story.
|The six of us love skiing together on family vacations|
Through the various disturbances -- some more intense than others -- I've responded in both soft and strong ways. My tough love side has found me grounding my kids, taking away their access to technology for weeks and months at a time, and even sending them to bed without dinner. On the flip side of the coin, other times the soft side of me dictates leniency, that there be no punishment at all and that I look the other way instead. I know my kind of parenting isn't consistent but it seems to be working reasonably well, at least for our family.
You can read all kinds of parenting books and get advice from friends and family on how they suggest you handle things. But remember: everyone's situation and standards are different -- and so is each child's natural personality and tendencies that we must nuture as parents. What's right for one child or family simply isn't going to work for all of us. So, take into consideration your own feelings (and that of any other parent figure involved) and the needs of your child. Then, simply give yourself permission to be the kind of parent that you think is best.
As long as your child feels loved by you and you find your own way to be involved in his or her life in a meaningful way, it won't matter whether you choose a soft or strong parenting style or a combination of both approaches.
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