No More Shoes in the Back Porch: A Parenting Story
Studies done by Diana Baumrind, who was a developmental psychologist, show the best parenting style is the authoritative style of the three types she studied in the 1960s. Authoritative parents hold high expectations for their children but are fair in their approach. This style of parenting is sometimes referred to as “democratic” and involves a child-centric approach. Characteristics of the authoritative parenting style include the following; listening to their children, encouraging independence, placing limits, consequences and expectations on their children’s behavior, expressing warmth and nurturance, allowing their children to express their opinions, encouraging their children to explore and discuss options, and administering fair and consistent discipline with the children’s input once they are in their teens. People with authoritative parenting styles want their children to develop reasoning and independence and these parents have high expectations for them. They are flexible parents and allow their children to explain circumstances and reasonably adjust their responses as needed. The effects of authoritative parenting is the best for stable child development and children raised this way tend to be more capable, happy and successful.
I was reflecting on my parenting lately and know I could have done a better job if I knew than what I know now. Now, meaning since I have learnt a lot about parenting with my psychology education but too late as my children are grown up before I learnt these skills. I learnt from experience too but that didn’t always help my children though it may have at times. I remember going to listen to a psychologist lecture about parenting at our children’s school long before I went into the field of psychology and learnt a little about parenting from him. I even put some of what I learnt into practical use.
The one idea I picked up from this parenting lecture was to make my children more responsible for their actions. In other words start making them responsible humans in our society gradually so the lessons eventually become a habit. That rang true for me and I decided to put that one lesson to use. Looking around home I sometimes saw messy rooms with scattered cloths that I ran around picking up on laundry day and shoes scattered all over our back porch. More shoes then I thought we could possibly own and with 2 closets sitting empty in that same entry way. At times I could hardly open the back door for shoes. Guiltily I noticed a few of mine and my partner’s too. Well maybe the back porch was a good start. At supper the next evening I announced that any shoes left outside the closets would get pitched out. The looks on those innocent faces were hard for me to see without backing down. Being the democratic person I generally am, I quickly let them know mine and their dad’s were up for grabs too. My partner’s face became alarmed as he glanced towards the back door. The girls both dashed towards the back door and quickly put their shoes away in the closets and threw their dad’s out. Mine were neatly put away because of course I had the home advantage. This became quite a fun game for all of us and quickly worked with a back porch with never a shoe around or at least not for long.
Another idea that quickly came to me was that I needed help with dishes after meal times. I quickly established a rule that the cook never has to do dishes with me being the most frequent cook. This worked like a charm with my partner pitching in when he didn’t cook and me doing the same when he did.
My third idea that didn’t work so well was the laundry scattered all over the girls’ rooms. I generally closed their doors so I wouldn’t have to look at the mess and once weekly was their thorough clean up time to neat up their rooms. I announced that I would wash what was put in the dirty clothes laundry shoot that led to my downstairs laundry room. Well they mostly ignored it no matter what I said so I decided I couldn’t allow my children to wear dirty clothes to school and continued to sometimes pick up laundry as before. It did work sometimes and I wasn’t looking for perfection just habitual responsibilities and that I did accomplish. Overall I believe I accomplished the job of raising responsible children as I have two wonderful adult daughters today.
Irene Haire, MC, RCAT, Registered Provisional Psychologist is in private practice in Edmonton at The GB Building 200-9562- 82 Avenue, 780-232-1055 www.cloverdalecounselling.com