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While parenting styles and methods have evolved over the years for the better and a lot seems to have changed for kids today, there is tried-and-true childrearing advice that never goes out of style. What age-old parenting strategies have you implemented and adapted to make it work in your parenting journey? We talk a lot about the wonders and demands of modern parenting, so it got me thinking.
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Well, I was raised by a strong woman who believes that bad behavior corresponds to punishment. And yes, I do that to my kids too. Although I am exposed to gentle parenting because of the people around me and even the social media who suggest it more often than not, I choose to discipline my kids according to what I believe is best, and yes, I do punish them when I need too.
From time-outs to being grounded and yes, spanking for extreme cases. I adapted my mother's belief that if we spare a child from discipline, we cannot expect them to follow the rules of the world when they grow up. My rule of thumb when it comes to having to discipline my kids is that I explain to them why certain actions need to be taken. Kids are kids but they too have feelings that we need to acknowledge and boundaries we need to respect.
One of the more traditional parenting rules I have maintained is that we always eat dinner together as a family. Unless someone has a school or work obligation, we all sit together and have dinner. No phones are allowed at the table and so we spend the time listening to one another and talking about our day. This daily opportunity to touch base has helped keep our family connected and up to date with what is going on in each other's lives and has allowed plenty of opportunities for very interesting conversations.
The mainstays of my parenting approach have always been kindness, respect and tolerance. As a family we knew that there would be days when we did not all like each other, and that we would not always agree with one another, but that even these days we could still treat one another with kindness and respect. As my kids have grown, they have been able to take this lesson with them into the world where they are able to treat others with respect. They have also learned that not every person is going to be your kind of person, but that it is not your job to try and change others - rather you need to learn how to be tolerant of people who have beliefs and convictions different to your own.
My modern day parenting styles are similar to those mentioned in that I support unconditional positive regard and attachment-parenting. The old style parenting that still works with me is 1. Being consistent (but not rigid) with routines and follow through of my expectations and 2. Eating together. I feel these both still support relational parenting and supporting kids to feel safe and loved.
My style of parenting really combines the knowledge that my children are 1.) individual people, and 2.) will be making their own journey to adulthood.
With this philosophy, I firmly believe that my main job as a parent is to teach them how to become responsible adults, who contribute to an overall good in society. To do this, I follow these disciplines in parenting.
1. When I say no, I mean no. As my daughters have grown older, I appreciate and welcome their knowledge and feedback as to their decisions. But as they were growing up, especially in the toddler/elementary age, what I said was what was going to happen. As the adult, my job was not to be their friend, but rather their teacher, protector, guide. Bedtime was my determination, not an area for discussion. Having friends over with the understanding that there were rules for safety in our home were non-negotiables. My role consisted of teaching them boundaries are put in place for a reason, and there were many areas where the rules were just that - rules, not suggestions.
2. Acknowledge when you are being spoken to was one of the big parts of my parenting. This simple act of recognizing you are being spoken to, and looking at a person when in conversation with them, has proven to be one of the best things I did for my kids. They see the importance of providing someone with courtesy and respect during dialogue, and will put down their phone, or pause a show, in order to provide another person with deserved attention.
3. Doing chores because you are part of this family. I did not give my children an allowance. They were not given a "paycheck" for keeping their rooms clean, setting the table, cleaning the toilet. They did these chores because they were part of our family. When we had larger projects, like the raking of fall leaves, these were times when a monetary form of appreciation was given, and it was generous. But I believe that as a member of a family, there are things which are expected to be done without the promise of a reward. It seemed to help them develop an intrinsic sense of reward, based on their ability to contribute and provide a service. Now, their motivation to do well and serve others is internal, and not based on what\'s in it for them.
There are parts of old-fashioned parenting that need to catch up with modern, especially when it comes to dealing with conflict in a healthy way and being able to be open and transparent with emotions. But for what it\'s worth, old-fashioned parenting still has a lot of good methods to help raise independent, successful kids.
I love and will always love the Golden Rule as a parenting tool. I'm not sure exactly from whence it originated but "Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you" seems like the greatest single piece of life advice of all time. In children, it teaches empathy at a very young age. Early teaching of putting oneself in the shoes of another person as a way of perceiving the effect your actions would have on that person is really beneficial and, I think, necessary. I'm sure there are others I enjoy like "A spoonful of sugar..." and "Spare the rod..." but The Golden Rule is tops in my book.