2 Kinds of Parenting, and Why They're Both Wrong

Oct 08, 2019

As a parent coach, I meet with all kinds of mothers every day, and I know it's frowned upon to oversimplify, but after many years of doing this, I have noticed patterns when it comes to discipline.


Many moms fall into one of 2 camps:


1) My kids need to know I'm the boss, do what I say and respect my authority, or


2) My kids need to know they're safe and I love them more than I love breathing.

This is not a new observation. Love and Logic™ calls these parents 'drill sergeants and helicopters.' I've also heard 'military and mushy,' 'authoritarian and permissive' and loads of other labels. Attachment parents are often lumped in the mushy category too.


The interesting thing to me isn't the labels; it's that on some level, both sets of parents want the same thing, and believe the other type's priorities just come naturally.


The 'hard-line' moms believe that their love for their child is self-evident and goes without saying; it's the discipline and boundaries that require intention and energy. The permissive moms believe that their kids will do the right thing simply because the person they love (their parent) wants them to, or they've been shown that it's the right thing to do; it's the love and compassion that we need to focus on.


Is this a massive oversimplification? Hell yes.


But don't get upset about it; I'm not telling you to categorize yourself into one or the other (none of us are all one and none of the other), and I'm not saying that these underlying beliefs are conscious or obvious to us when we're playing them out. The utility of these simplifications is they help us understand where we're going astray and can be a tool to getting us back on track.


Because the real sweet spot of parenting is a marriage of the 2 philosophies. Kids do need discipline and boundaries. AND they need so. much. love. The magic is when we enforce boundaries in a loving way, and in my practice, I teach Natural Consequences, delivered with Compassion and Confidence to get us there.


On some level we know this is the golden destination we're striving for, but how do we know if we're on the path that leads there? Here are some signs you might be off track and tipping the balance too far toward one of those categories:


1) Issuing frequent punishments


2) Going back on rules you've set


3) Repeating yourself or reminding your child


4) Giving 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances


5) Yelling or losing your temper frequently


6) Lecturing about or explaining punishments


7) Trying to talk or reason with kids while they're upset


8) Variable responses to misbehavior


9) Arbitrary or illogical responses to misbehavior


10) Corporeal punishment (spanking, for example)


If you find yourself checking off practically all these boxes, you are NOT alone. Even I, the supposed 'expert' fall into many of them on the reg. We all have our natural tendencies (I tend toward authoritarian parenting if I'm not paying attention) and no one strikes the balance between the two without trying...really hard.


My hope with this post is to get you thinking and open your mind to natural consequences. This is just part 1; next week I'll talk about what natural consequences are, what they're NOT, and how to decide if the consequences you're using are good ones for your family. Stay Tuned!!!


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