Just walk into any pre-school center and you’ll see that parents continue to evolve, even today in 2019. The variety of today’s parents is enormous. One teacher told me moms or dads will remain at the school until after the official start time, to make sure their child is safe and happy. Another administrator told me that parents are now dropping their child off with an extreme list of requirements for teaching and items their child is not allowed to be exposed to (granted, allergies are completely understandable). Still others report moms dropping their child off daily, with plans to go shopping, play tennis or get massages or spa treatments.
The fact is—we are living in a new day, when parenting has become a competition. We see it in schools, soccer teams, theatre and neighborhoods. Out of this stressful period, we’ve created new methods to help us cope with our new realities:
- The tablet is the new pacifier. When my kids were toddlers we gave them a pacifier when they became fussy or fidgety. Today—90% of preschool aged children are on a tablet or portable device amusing themselves.
- The baby monitor is the new baby sitter. These monitors have been around for decades, but now we use them to watch both the children and the baby sitter we’ve hired while we’re away from our home. Cameras are everywhere.
- Netflix is the new playground. Our kids were outside playing more than kids are today. Children now will spend hours vegging and binging on Netflix shows. They are sedentary, but safe, secluded and satisfied.
- Fortnite is the new pick-up baseball game. I recall playing outside for hours after school with whoever was available for a baseball or basketball game. Now, “pick up” games are played with friends or strangers on a video screen.
- Instagram is the new photo album. This one has made life easier. Instead of buying a physical photo album and storing it away in the attic, we now have our library of pics on social media sites we can access more simply and faster.
- Medication is the new time-out. Over the years, kids have been given larger amounts of meds for a widening variety of allergies or diagnoses. We have to be careful these meds don’t replace the pain of disciplining them.
Four Dangerous Parenting Styles
While none of these methods are tragic, they do signal a different way of coping with our busy lives. Some of us—quite accidentally—have failed to recognize how it’s affected our parenting styles in the home. I’d like to call your attention to four types of poor leadership within families, that eventually lead to unhealthy outcomes in the children. I offer them to you simply as a word of caution:
1. The Preoccupied Parent (Distracted)
One of the more common responses we received from students in our focus groups was that they seldom spoke to their parents. One said, “When I get home from school, I never talk to my mom. She’s on Facebook all afternoon, then on her phone while she’s cooking dinner.” More and more, we adults have become slaves to our portable devices, as much as our kids are. We’re distracted from our highest priority—leading our family.
2. The Paranoid Parent (Distrustful)
I see these parents all the time—refusing to let their kids take any risks; to ride their bike across the neighborhood; or attend a college more than two hours away. They micromanage. These parents are distrustful of others to take care of (even) their teens, and they always err on the side of caution and fear. They often raise kids who either rebel as soon as they possibly can…or who are fearful just like them. Fear rules the day.
3. Passive Parent (Docile)
This parent is the opposite of the paranoid parent. They are so disengaged from or overwhelmed by their kid’s issues, they withdraw and become docile. They have no idea who their children’s friends are; they don’t know what questions to ask their teen; and they are emotionally absent when they are needed most by their kids. They fail to empower their kids, and neglect to invest in them during their rite-of-passage years.
4. Pandering Parent (Defenseless)
This style may be as bad as the passive parent, but for other reasons. This parent is simply weak emotionally. They pander to their kids, giving in to every whim or demand. They’re afraid of being un-liked and afraid of conflict, in general. The child quickly learns they’ll get their way and pushes their parent as far as they want. This parent usually ends up with spoiled children who make demands as adults.
My question is—in this new day—have you drifted into any of these styles?
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