Our brains like organization. We like to make sense of the chaotic world around us. So, we draw lines. The more chaos we experience, the thicker the line. Our subconscious mind connects events, experiences and emotions to form associations of what is good or bad. The line I want to talk about today is the parenting line. The idea of what a good or bad parent is and what crossing that line entails.
I was surprised to find that there is still the age old battle between "friend-parents" and "parent-parents". Is one better than the other?
One constant in psychological studies seems to be that everything is on a spectrum. On one extreme, you have the ultimate friend parent: the parent who seeks to be accepted by their child to the point of negligence. Whether they feel insecure about the bond they share with their child, have unresolved issues that prevent them from setting boundaries or something else entirely, this is the person who lets their child get away with murder. They have an enmeshed relationship with their kid to the point where that child does not feel like they are safe, protected and have a parental figure to guide them.
On the other extreme, you have the authoritative parent. They believe that their word is law and they demand obedience at any cost. They don't hesitate to punish their child if it means being listened to. Whether they admit it to themselves or not, they believe the parent should have the power, thus conflict turns into constant power struggles. The child experiencing this extreme does not feel heard, respected, or valued.
In both instances, the child feels a lack of trust with the parent. Both instances are unhealthy degrees. Things are healthier when they are balanced. When I hear other mom's exchanging parenting advice, I hear them bounce between the extremes. I hear solutions to conflict that are either in lines with ignoring the problem (don't give it attention, it will go away) or punishing the child (take everything away from them until they understand they are wrong).
You will know that you are parenting the right way if your child is healthy, emotionally stable, and taking steps to transition into a functioning adult with healthy dynamics among other people. There is no cookie cutter answer to resolvingconflict. Things that worked int he past may not work in the future. Things that worked with one child may not work with another. Here are some tips to get you through it.
1. Be adaptable.
As the parent, it is your job to meet the individual needs of the individual child in the individual situation. If it takes you time to find your footing in a new set of circumstances, be gentle with yourself and take time if you need it.
2. Be solution oriented.
Clearly define what you want out of the situation at hand and teach your children to do the same. This will give you a starting place when trying to come to an understanding.
3. Remember your child has their own agenda.
They are humans with their own brains, thought processes and motivations. And sometimes those things run against what you want. Sometimes that's ok. Sometimes it causes a problem. You can provide boundaries while respecting your child's feelings and need to assert their independence. That is not being "soft" it's cultivating a relationship.
I hope these tips help you come to the middle when dealing with conflicts in your own family. I think I'm going to make a videoto go along with this article, so check my youtube for updates on this topic.