In my college sociology class, many years ago, I learned that you usually raise your kids in the opposite style that you were raised in. For instance, if your parents were extremely strict on you as a child, then you would tend to be more lenient with your children or if your parents were super lenient, you would be more strict.
I feel like there are tons of parenting styles that fall on the outside and in between just strict or lenient. You have the gentle parenting technique, the helicopter moms, the crunchy ones too, the free-range parenting style and unfortunately the neglectful and uninvolved. Although, it seems the strict and lenient parenting may be the two most popular styles.
I felt like the point my sociology teacher was trying to make was accurate for me. My parents were pretty lenient. They let me have a lot of freedom as a kid. I could have friends over and I could go stay places pretty much as I pleased. I did have a curfew, but it was later than most of my friends and 90 percent of the time I did not abide by it. I went to parties in high school and let us just say, had lots of fun times.
On the other end of the spectrum, I had a friend in high school whose parents were the complete opposite of mine and were extremely strict, probably overly strict. She was barely allowed to stay the night places but could have friends over at her house every now and then. She had to be home by 9:00 every night no matter the occasion- Friday night football, Homecoming or whatever else may be going on during the school year.
I really used to pity her sometimes. I specifically remember the night of our Senior Prom, and everyone was going out after the dance, but she had to go straight home. That was simply crazy to me. I know it is only high school and I know kids may not make the best decisions all the time, but some of my favorite memories to look back on were during that time of my life and I cannot help but to feel bad that she may not have those same memories to cherish.
My friend worked hard in high school though and graduated at the top of her class, receiving a scholarship to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. However, she flunked out her freshman year because she spent all her free time drinking and partying. I guess she was making up for lost time.
So, I guess you can say both parenting styles have upsides and downsides. Knowing what I know and what I did during those years under my parents’ roof, there is no way I am going to let my kids have the same freedom I did, at least not to that extent. Plus, the world is a lot different now versus then unfortunately. I am also not going to always keep my children on lockdown and deprive them of making those wonderful high school memories. I guess I am stuck in between somewhere.
I just go by what I see that my children need at that moment. All kids are different and each one may respond better to a different style of parenting. With Emerson, I can play more of the gentle parent role with her. If I speak too loudly at her, 9 times out of 10 she is going to break down in tears. Ashton, on the other hand, I must be more authoritative to get my point across with that one. I am not so sure what is going to work best with Kameron yet, but I am sure I will figure it out as her personality continues to develop.
Some days my kids might get a hug and others they may get a swift (insert famous line of Red Foreman), but both will come with a talk because one thing is for sure, I will never leave my children trying to guess where I am coming from and I will never be above apologizing to them if I lose my cool every now and then (because sometimes that happens, too.)
So, which is best? The more strict or lenient style of parenting? I don’t know. Regardless of how we choose to parent our children they are going to mess up at least once or twice. It may be in high school or later in life. The only thing that matters is how we respond when they do. I’m just a mom trying my best.
(Paige Nash is a wife, a mom who is trying her best, digital journalist for Webster Parish Journal and a new licensee for Bienville Parish Journal.)
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