The following represents information I feel is most important to being a successful parent. Additionally, I discuss two challenges to achieving these parenting goals and suggests some solutions
1: Be an Authoritative Parent
When compared with other parenting styles, authoritative parenting yields better outcomes for children than any other parenting style including outcomes in general competence and behavior problems for both boys and girls (Brooks, 2013). So how exactly does one be an authoratative parent?
Three behaviors of Authoritative Parenting
- Be Controlling & Demanding but permit considerable freedom within reasonable limits (ex. Allowing teenagers to choose what friends to hang out with on the weekends but being firm about the rule of being home on time at night)
- Be warm and nurturing (ex. often showing and expressing love for children through words, deeds, and physical affection such as hugs)
- Use induction when teaching children (ex. If a child hits their sibling, ask, “That makes me sad when you hit your brother, how would you feel if someone hit you?”) (Walker, 2017b)
2: Discipline Using Natural and Logical Consequences and Be True to One’s Word
Discipline is something each parent and child faces many times during development and parents have to decide the way it will occur. Using natural and logical consequences (see below) has been suggested as an alternative to the use of power and punishment (Brooks, 2013) and I suggest it here. Additionally, it is important that parents are true to their word if they suggest a consequence will occur for a behavior (Walker, 2017b)
Three Behaviors of Disciplining with Natural and Logical Consequences And Being True to One’s Word
- Use natural consequences when parenting (ex. if your child refuses to eat dinner because they are upset, let them be hungry as a natural consequence)
- Use logical consequences when parenting (ex. if your child does not responsibly handle the car, take away their driving privileges rather than something illogical like refusing to let them use their cell phone for a month)
- Be true to your word as a parent while still allowing for escalation of punishment (ex. if you have told your child not to use their cell phone past midnight and they do so, warn them, perhaps even a couple times. Then, if they continue to violate the rule, follow through on your word and take away the cell phone (Walker, 2017b)
3: Have Flexible and Developmentally Appropriate Expectations and Rules Suited to Each Child
No two children are the same and no two children are the same developmentally (except for twins who still are not the same person). Children do better when parents are flexible with each child and don’t have a one-size-fits-all policy (Walker, 2017b)
Three behaviors of Flexible and Developmentally Appropriate Expectations and Rules Suited to Each Child
- Use developmentally appropriate practices when parenting (ex. You should not get angry at your two-year-old when they throw food on the ground during dinner as they are just exploring the world. If it were your teenager, it would be a different story)
- Use flexible parenting practices (ex. If you have a teenager who has a history of staying out too late and another teenager who always comes home on time, it would be appropriate to set different curfew times for them based on their past behavior)
- Be willing to hear children out in requests to change rules (ex. Your teenager who has had an 11:00 PM curfew has come home on time every night for the past few months and asks to have the curfew extended to midnight. You agree to discuss the issue with them and make a decision with your spouse (Walker, 2017b).)
Personal Challenges in Meeting These goals
Work Family Conflict and Poor Quality Work Environments
Negative work conditions, poor work hours and undesirable interactions at work can have detrimental effects on children including poorer relationships, parental distress, less effective parenting and others (Brooks, 2013). The potential struggles of work present challenges to being an authoritative parent because that style of parenting is about love and limits and stress affects our ability to love. If I am unable to express love adequately, I will be less effective in that parenting goal. Additionally, I am planning on working for many years to come, and so It is important that a healthy work-family balance is found. Here are ten strategies for finding work family balance:
- Value family first
- Strive for partnership
- Derive meaning from work
- Maintain work boundaries
- Be focused and productive at work
- Prioritize family fun
- Be confident in your choices
- Live simply (don’t work to live beyond means)
- Learn to say “no”
- Value time (Walker, 2017a)
Additionally, it should be kept in mind what President Harold B. Lee has said about our true work: “The most important of the Lord’s work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 2000).”
Failing to Promote Family Recreation and Simply Not Having Enough Fun
Families who participate in wholesome recreation on a regular basis are more healthy in general than those who do not. Regular simple activities as well longer trips help families to be happier overall (Widmer & Taniguchi, 2012). When individuals are stressed, they tend to act more harshly towards others. Because of that, I know if don’t participate in recreation with my family, I will not discipline using natural and logical consequences (but instead use harsher ones because of stress) and will be less flexible with rules. I know for myself that I fail at times to see the value in recreation and don’t always have as much fun as I should. For that reason, here is some information to promote recreation in the family and individually to address these concerns:
- Remember that aimless leisure is only for pleasure while wholesome recreation is purposeful and includes meaningful interaction. Strive for wholesome recreation over meaningless leisure (Hill, 2015)
- Remember the different types of recreation and strive for Joint interaction:
- Parallel (doing the same things but not really interacting)
- Joint (doing the same things with high levels of interaction)
- Independent (doing something on one’s own) (Widmer & Taniguchi, 2012)
- Perform a self-evaluation by asking:
- What did I do with my children and/or wife that was fun today?
- What did I do with my children and/or wife that strengthened my relationship with them?
- What could I do with my children and/or wife that would create meaningful memories and fun?
- Consider Simple Forms of Entertainment Which Can Be Used to Build Relationships and Have Fun
- Throwing a Ball
- Making a Treat Together
- Going for a walk
- Playing a Board Game
- Many Others!
I once heard a quote which stated, “if you aren’t having fun, you aren’t living the gospel right.” I believe that saying could be applied to parenting as well, “If you aren’t having fun, you aren’t raising your family right.” This is something important for me to keep in mind as I seek to follow the parenting goals I have set
Brooks, J. (2013). The Process of Parenting: McGraw-Hill.
Hill, E. J. (2015). Lecture on Wholesome Recreational Activities. Brigham Young University. Personal Collection of E. Jeffrey Hill.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (2000). Chapter 14: Love at Home. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee.
Walker, L. (2017a). Lecture on Parenting and Work. Brigham Young University. Personal Collection of Laura Walker.
Walker, L. (2017b). Lecture on Positive Parenting. Brigham Young University. Personal Collection of Laura Walker.
Widmer, M. A., & Taniguchi, S. T. (2012). Wholesome Family Recration: Building Strong Families. In D. C. D. T. W. D. Alan J. Hawkins (Ed.), Successful Marriages and Families. Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.