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Can You Be Your Child’s Friend?

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on April 30, 2018 16:36

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Many experts say parents can't be friends with their kids. But in today's dynamic social media world, keeping communication channels open is imperative as long as boundaries are set properly.

Most parenting experts say that you can’t be your child’s friend. I say hogwash.

When you first think about becoming a parent, you have all these fantasies of the fun things you will do with your child: playing sports, camping, crafting, etc…. I don’t know a single parent who daydreams about punishing their future children.

Sure there may be a quip or two from grandparents reminding new parents that payback for their childhood behaviors is having your own children. But can you be both a disciplinary parent and friend to your child?

In business, there are several leadership styles widely studied and adopted in management. As parents, I think we can learn a thing or two about family leadership.

One leadership style is Affiliative Leadership. This type of manager seeks to build harmony and emotional bonds among management and co-workers. It is most effective when motivating people during stressful situations. 

Another is the Coercive Leadership style that is the “my way or the highway” approach which can create stress and job insecurity among employees.

I think if we look at both of these as parenting styles, we can draw some similarities: the Affiliative Parent or the Coercive Parent. We’ll call first Friendship Parenting and the second Strict Parenting.

The risk to the Affiliative Style is that subordinates might not understand who is in charge when necessary. This is the same risk of Friendship Parenting. But with the proper boundaries set and consistency in punishments and rewards, this style of parenting in today’s overwhelmingly stressful teenage world may have more benefits than initially perceived.

The question is, does Friendship Parenting preventing someone from disciplining his or her child the way Strict Parenting does?

It can if you are afraid to jump in and be the bad guy when necessary. According to those who are parenting and psychology experts, being a friend means your child sees you as a peer which means they don’t see you in charge.

This style is a slippery slope. However, the benefits in modern society where kids easily become closed off because of social issues, using Friendship Parenting can aid in keeping necessary communication channels open. Expectations need to be set from an early age. There must be consequences for negative behavior; even for that teenage tone every parent experiences.

Boundaries must also be set that parent’s problems are not for the child to absorb or solve. Huge risks exist if kids are expected to grow up too fast to help parents deal with adult issues.  

But being a parent today is hard, whether you are your child’s friend or not.

Each parent is going to have his or her own style of parenting. Some seem to make it seem so easy. Some will succeed and others will fail. No style is immune to failure. Do what you feel is right while remembering to set the boundaries and pay attention to results.

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on April 30, 2018 16:36

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Source: Daily Mail

Biologists at Massey University in New Zealand studied the rigid parenting style of eastern rockhopper penguins (pictured)...

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