Ever heard of the words Parenting Structure?
Ok…let me make it easier for you…do you feel ever bad for being strict with your kids? Or, do you feel the opposite, that is, do you feel frustrated when you give freedom to your kids and they exploit the freedom? Maybe you don’t have a parenting structure.
Parenting is a balancing act. It’s tough to know where to draw the line. While we are searching for things in black and white, it seems to have more than 50 shades of grey.
Advice floating around sound contradictory. All options have their own merits and demerits. For example, take the case of freedom vs discipline. What is okay and what is not okay? Is discipline better or should I give them freedom? Should I be a good friend or do I be a tough disciplinarian?
If there is freedom, there will be honesty and transparency says one school of thought.
If there is discipline, they will be performers says another school of thought.
When you give freedom, they will learn to make choices. Give them the right to make their own mistakes and learn from them – says one school of thought.
When you ensure discipline, they will learn to stay focused. Once focus has become their habit, it will continue for the rest of their life – says another school of thought.
My heart says, allow the flower to bloom with freedom. After all, no flower is born under strict discipline, isn’t it?
My mind says weeds grow wild in freedom. The maximization of output happens only with discipline.
Ouch! Both sound apt in their own place. Which one is actually right?
And then a question occurs, is it possible to be both – a good friend who understands and a good parent who means business?
And then, miracle of miracles, I reframed the question – How to be a parent who is a friend as well as someone who means business?
Here is the answer –
At times I need to be a friendly figure. At times I need to be a disciplinarian. The best thing would be to create a structure that guides me, what is needed when. In other words, let me govern my parenting not through a personality (freedom or discipline), but through a structure.
In this parenting structure, there are certain things that are absolutely negotiable and there are certain things that are completely non-negotiable.
In other words, there are areas where the kids have freedom. There are areas, where discipline is non-negotiable.
Let’s take a deeper dive into this structure.
Parenting structure has two components –
- Negotiable behaviors
- Non-negotiable behaviors
Let’s look at a few simple examples,
- Being Punctual – For punctuality, there is a negotiable and a non-negotiable aspect. Let’s discover where the thin line is. Being punctual to school is non-negotiable. Children must reach school before time. Whereas, if your kid has to watch a movie, it is not critical to be punctual.
- Going to play – If your child says, “I will be back by 9 o’clock” but comes back by 9.15-9.20, it is negotiable. Whereas, if the exams are around the corner and the kid has made a timetable where he is supposed to sit to study by 7 but returns at 9, that is not acceptable. In such cases, 7 means 7. You can sometimes take a step back to recognize the things that are negotiable and the things that are not.
- Behaviour – Difference of opinion is negotiable whereas, disrespect is completely non-negotiable. Whatever happens in life, whoever they are interacting with, a difference of opinion is completely acceptable. But they must do it respectfully. Respect is non-negotiable but a difference of opinion is absolutely negotiable.
Staying at a friends place is absolutely negotiable whereas, telling lies is completely non-negotiable.
When we create a parenting structure between us and the children, there MUST be a healthy discussion about the negotiable and non-negotiable aspects. When there is an openness in the family with clearly defined boundaries, healthy communication happens. Free flow of thoughts, in a healthy atmosphere, will give rise to a lively family.
Now, children also know what are the things that can be stretched and what are some of the things that absolutely cannot be pushed. A beautiful blend of freedom and discipline gets imbibed naturally in our children.
To sum it up, a balance between necessary freedom and necessary discipline is brilliant. Freedom without discipline always destroys. It makes a person irresponsible.
On the other hand discipline without freedom will create robots. There you end up creating children with no free will, no sense of imagination. These children only learn to obey instructions. They cannot segregate the right from the wrong.
Balancing between discipline and freedom is the classic parenting act better known as ‘parenting with structure’.
If you are already a perfect blend of freedom and discipline you are a WOW parent!