Whether you can truly re-write the parenting handbook you were subjected to “is a question that in many ways almost every parents asks,” child and family therapist Dr. Ron Taffel. “How can I be the parent that I would like to be, some of which I will take from my own parents and some of which doesn’t fit anymore and I would like to be different?” The answer, he says, is to approach it with eyes wide open.
“We all have experiences, scripts, if you will, that stay with us one way or another forever,” when it comes to parenting, Taffel, author of Childhood Unbound explains. But simply resolving to do the opposite (Think: “I’ll never be like her”) or behave in exactly the same way (if, for example, your mom was your best friend and you want an identical relationship with your child) doesn’t work because it doesn’t take into account your or your child’s individual temperament and who each of you are right now.
Say you want to do more activities with your child than your parents did with you. Watch how he or she responds to those three play dates you scheduled for your family in one weekend. That may be too much, says Taffel. “Try to find the parenting style that fits not just your values, but your child’s comfort level too.”
Write the script in a way that fits your whole family, by identifying exactly what works and what doesn’t. Take a quiet moment and actually write down a couple of tense exchanges between you and your child, he advises. Do it for a few days in a row. “What you will see is that, ‘Oh my god we’ve been doing this repetitive predictable exchange over and again,’” he says. “Does it really fit with what my child needs or am I doing this just because of the ways I want to be different or the same as my parents were? Sometimes even little tweaks to this pattern can lead to more effective connections and really getting through.”
Looking to other examples of a role model can help too. “Just because your parents weren’t good role models doesn’t mean you can’t model your parenting style after someone else, or better yet, a compilation of parents you admire,” family therapist Paul Hokemeyer, PhD. “Then fake it ‘til you make it. Act as if you were that parent. Over time, you will become them and your actions and reactions will flow naturally.”
Breaking any cycle requires consistency, adds Hokemeyer, who recommends taking a step back on a regular basis to assess how things are going. “Just like a business needs to constantly take inventory, so too does a parent – of the parenting traits that you distain and admire,” he explains. “Be vigilant about how you are exhibiting them while interacting with your child.”
And no cheating. To successfully stop a replay of your parents’ parenting today, you need to be willing to take an honest look at yourself and perhaps most importantly, be willing to change, says Hokemeyer. “You need not be a perfect parent,” he adds. “Just good enough to enable your child and you to grow into the best people that you can be.”
While parents who are clearly and embarrassingly inappropriate come in for ridicule, many of us find ourselves drawn to the idea that with just a bit more parental elbow grease, we might turn out children with great talents and assured futures. Is there really anything wrong with a kind of “overparenting lite”?
Parental involvement has a long and rich history of being studied. Decades of studies, many of them by Diana Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the optimal parent is one who is involved and responsive, who sets high expectations but respects her child’s autonomy. These “authoritative parents” appear to hit the sweet spot of parental involvement and generally raise children who do better academically, psychologically and socially than children whose parents are either permissive and less involved, or controlling and more involved. Why is this particular parenting style so successful, and what does it tell us about overparenting?
For one thing, authoritative parents actually help cultivate motivation in their children. Carol Dweck, a social and developmental psychologist at Stanford University, has done research that indicates why authoritative parents raise more motivated, and thus more successful, children.
In a typical experiment, Dr. Dweck takes young children into a room and asks them to solve a simple puzzle. Most do so with little difficulty. But then Dr. Dweck tells some, but not all, of the kids how very bright and capable they are. As it turns out, the children who are not told they’re smart are more motivated to tackle increasingly difficult puzzles. They also exhibit higher levels of confidence and show greater overall progress in puzzle-solving.
Dr. Dweck shows the three generations parenting, and explains how it impacted the kids in long-run.
- How my Grandparents raised their children?
As you can see, they focused more on household work followed by studies. Their focus on health and hobbies was negligible.
Result- He is good at household work. He often helps mom in the kitchen and doesn’t miss a chance to compliment her or any other lady (My dad, after all). He was good at studies and hence now has a handsomely paying job.
He has poor health conditions. He once used to be quite tall, fair & handsome but now he’s partially bald and overweight. He has no hobbies. So, in his leisure time, all he loves to do is sleeping.
Almost same is the case with mom except that she’s still beautiful. Damn beautiful!
- How my parents raised me?
My parents focus only on two things, i.e., studies and household work. Whenever they find me sitting free, I’m given two options~ “Either you sit to study or you do the dishes!” Again, negligible focus on health and hobbies.
Result- I can literally do the dishes very well. My younger brother is good at cooking. I used to be the class topper until 7th std. I had no hobbies. I was probably the physically weakest guy in my class.
And then, my brother and I turned badass. We wouldn’t obey anymore. I focused on my physique and he, on his singing. So now, besides grades, we’ve a few other things to flaunt about. Obviously, grades have fallen down slightly.
- How I’ll raise my children?
Well, I’m planning to raise ’em as the Jacks of all trades and the Masters of at least one.
Result- Let’s see.
My parents raised me with what they thought was best for me. I’ll raise my children with what I think would be best for them.
However, I will likely use the core principal which they raised us on, which I believe turned out to be great for me.
You can only offer exposure, experiences, perspective and trust; as soon as you try and force them you will be living their life through them.
I think they key philosophy is to encourage by example but not dictate. I was very fortunate to be given a variety of opportunities growing up which helped shape me into the person I am today.
Our religion also clearly states what
1. Give gifts to your daughter(s) first.
2. Play with your children. This has an important effect in the training and nurturing of your child. Our leaders in Islam have stressed the importance of this issue, and recommended it highly to Muslims.
3. Do not hit your child when they cry, because it is narrated from the Prophet (S): “Do not hit your babies since their crying has a meaning. The first 4 months of crying is professing the unity of Allāh (SwT), the second 4 months of crying is sending blessings upon the Prophet (S) and his family and the third 4 months of crying is the baby praying for the parents.”
4. Do not ridicule the actions of your child, nor call them silly.
5. Do not order or forbid your child too much, as this emboldens them and leads to rebellious behaviour when older.
6. Keep your promises. Keeping promises in Islam is a sign of one’s faith, and Allāh (SwT) mentions it in the Qur`an.
وَأَوْفُوا بِالْعَهْدِ إِنَّ الْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْؤُولاً
“And fulfill the covenants; indeed all covenants are accountable.”
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِأَمَانَاتِهِمْ وَعَهْدِهِمْ رَاعُونَ
“And those who keep their trusts and covenants.”