Parenting is a constant see-saw between love and limits; parents often sway towards either end, or provide neither to the child. The result is a child who grows up with various adjustment difficulties which carry over to adulthood. Balanced parenting- also called “Authoritative” parenting- combines both LOVE (care, affection, praise, physical warmth) and LIMITS (discipline, redirection, rules, authority).
What does it take to be a balanced parent?
- Balanced parents respect a child’s individuality at the same time stress social values.
- They demand hard work and encourage success but never thrust their dreams on the child. Instead they respect their child’s independent decisions and encourage without pushing.
- They are aware of their child’s needs, and are involved in the child’s day to day routine.
- Authoritative parents are consistent in their discipline, firm on maintaining standards and explain the reason behind their stand. Their children feel secure and know what is expected of them.
- Such Parents do what’s right for the child and the family rather than what suits their mood/purpose.
Of course, being a “balanced” parent is easier said than done!
What parents need to remember is that the above are just guidelines; there is no “one size fits all” type of balanced parenting.
Ideally parents need to find their own “right” balance of love and discipline that suits their family and situation.
Since balanced parenting is inherently flexible, it works for all kinds of children. Whether a child is naturally anxious, easy-going or energetic authoritative parents know that they can deal with any problems that arise as long as they stay firm in both their love, and their authority.
To give parents a fair idea of how balanced parenting works here are some real life examples of how balanced parenting would handle some tough situations.
- Your son hit another child during a birthday party.
Balanced parenting: Tell him that it is not right to hit people, make him apologize, and take away a privilege if this is a repeated offense.
- Your child is facing a board exam, but wastes time on the internet, phone and TV, and gets poor grades in the midterm test.
Balanced parenting: Involve yourself with the school work, schedule practical timetables and ground him/her (restrict freedom) until better results are produced.
- Your 5 year old demands something expensive at the mall that you haven’t budgeted for and threatens a tantrum…
Balanced parenting: Tell him no, but explain that you will bring him back to buy it when he saves enough stars for good school work.
- Your daughter has a favourite playmate who is a bad influence (lies, steals, misbehaves).
Balanced parenting: Let your child play with the friend in your presence but avoid bad-mouthing the friend. Introduce your child to new playmates, invite them home and gently motivate her to socialize more.
- Your child came home from school looking sad and depressed
Balanced parenting: Get him/her to talk about it. Or else get out what’s worrying him/her through play (drawing, telling a story etc)
What kind of adult does balanced parenting produce?
Children who are a product of balanced parenting usually feel secure, loved and accepted.
From toddlerhood, such children are independent, self controlled, exploratory and content. They are responsible and can be trusted to manage their school work and other simple chores.
Research shows that such children grow up to be adults who have high self esteem, and respect others and themselves.
They are usually high achievers, who reach their highest potential and choose careers of their liking. They grow up to be people with strong values and make good spouses and parents.
Parenting is on-the-job training with no grace period! Balanced parenting has been found to be one of the tools that can equip you for this lifelong career!
(Published in RobinAge, October 2009)