No matter which side you’re on in the nature versus nurture debate, it’s undeniable that the way we’re raised has an impact on who we become. For most of us, our parents are the biggest impact. I get worried easily, just like my mom; I’m as stubborn as my dad. Behind many of my mannerisms, passions, and even some aspects of my sense of humor, or the movies I like, I can easily point to them as a reason. 

When we’re younger, we look up to our parents. They are, after all, the major adults in our early childhood. Typically, in our teenage years however, we begin to question our parents and evaluate them more critically. Most children clash with their parents at some point, likely because they realize their parents aren’t as perfect as they seemed when they were younger. Can parents prevent this clash? I don’t think so. No matter how “good” a parent is — whatever that even means — they won’t always get along with their child. Disagreements are simply a part of parenting.

Some people think that there is a perfect method of parenting. I don’t believe that. But I do believe that there are some ways it can be more effective. Of course, a child may not necessarily understand their parents’ methods until they’re a parent themselves, but even at a young age, children can have some sense of what they need from their parents. 

On one end of the parenting spectrum is hands-off parenting, which means the parents basically let their kid do whatever they want. No bedtime, chores, or even school if they don’t want to. While this often reduces conflicts with the child, it ultimately fails to give guidance. I, for one, am very glad I did laundry, washed dishes, and vacuumed, because I can’t say the same for some of my peers. I was shocked when one of my friends asked me what I was putting in the dryer (it was dryer sheets). While doing absolutely whatever you want when you’re younger may be fun, once you’re older and faced with real responsibilities, being responsible and prepared to face real consequences may prove difficult. Bottom line — a complete lack of discipline and accountability sets us up for future failure. 

On the other end, there’s tiger parenting, which can be just as — if not more — harmful than hands-off parenting, depending on the parent and child. Tiger parenting is extremely strict parenting in which the parent typically forces their child to do what they want. Imagine your parents sign you up for swim lessons at age 4. Add on violin lessons at 6 years old. You start extracurriculars such as science club, Model UN, and SAT tutoring. Not only do you hate all of these activities, but your parents expect you to be the best at them. Luckily for me, I got to choose my own activities, opting to join chorus rather than learn an instrument and quitting swim lessons once we decided it was hopeless. The high-pressure environment of tiger parenting can lead to a multitude of problems, but mainly just too much stress on the child. They can easily feel like a disappointment if they don’t do exactly as their parents say, which makes it hard for them to discern between what they want to do and what they feel obligated to do. Of course, like any other parenting style, there are success stories. And while it does teach some to have a good work ethic, other children burn out before graduating high school.

Ultimately, neither of the aforementioned styles of parenting are ideal. While children need to have responsibilities, they should not be pushed to their breaking points. My parents expected me to take on certain responsibilities, but they also gave me choices. I wasn’t very good at soccer, so they never pushed me to be on the A-team. I’m expected to do well in school, but also to lead a well-balanced life. Their main goal is for me to be happy. With all my responsibilities, they gave me the tools to succeed. And although I didn’t always agree with my curfew or that I couldn’t have a cell phone until I was 13, I feel like I turned out as well as possible. A happy medium of parenting leads to happier children. I have my parents to thank for that.

Tagged: parenting

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