Parenting is an art.
The norms of parenting have shifted over the decades. There has always been a range of styles within a generation of parents, but for the most part, parenting from over 40 years ago was more on the “Seen and not heard” or “Speak when spoken to” side of the spectrum. Rules were rules. Authority wasn’t questioned. Kids didn’t question parents without a consequence for having the question itself. Along the way, however, emotional expression and autonomy became increasingly recognized as healthy components of the development of self. Raising kids who question the status quo and think outside of the box has become more and more of a desired outcome.
Where does this leave us as parents? No longer as prescribed as it once was, parenting has become an art. Rules are questioned, emotions are expressed, and kids are pushing boundaries. Each family has its own culture and set of values. We need to raise our kids with our family culture and values as well as our children’s unique set of needs in mind.
I am so grateful that my husband and I are raising our kids in an era when greater value is placed on emotional expression. If given the choice between a prescribed set of rules to parent with versus a blank slate, I will take the blank slate every time. But, there’s no denying it has become a more difficult and nuanced task.
The current age of parenting has left many of us feeling directionless. How do we get kids to do what we think they should do? I have even heard someone say, You can’t really say ‘No’ to kids these days. It’s just not how it works anymore. To that, I say, not only can you say no, but you must say no. We just don’t have to say no to everything. And there are many positive parenting strategies to use which minimize the need for “No” in the first place.
Parents tell me, My kids do things that I would never have done! When I ask if they would like to duplicate their own parents’ approach, they do not. They want a different way. Here’s the thing. Once you know what your set of parenting values are, it gets to be a Both-And. That is, you get to BOTH allow your kids to express themselves AND set a firm, loving boundary where you choose to set it. Figure out which rules help keep them safe and meet expectations. Figure out where you can loosen the reins so they can think outside of the box. Join your kids with compassion when they are struggling, and still set the boundary that you have intentionally chosen.