Balanced Parenting
Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - August 24, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  It can seem that the most crucial child-rearing period for parents is when the kids are little.

The little feet wander everywhere, and the little hands pick up anything that often ends up in the little mouths. Parents, indeed, need to be constantly watching.

But while watching is no doubt a boring, tiresome, and, well, stressful task, it’s no match to the test that parents are confronted with when the children enter their teen years. With their teenagers, parents still have to be watchful – perhaps even more closely watchful, since at this time the kids are already more ‘tricky’.  Most of all, there’s the widely perceived “rebelliousness” of the teens to contend with.

There’s no question about the parents’ love for their kids. It is even the very cause of their quandary. Parents just want to thoroughly love their kids, without ever having to turn down any of the young ones’ wishes.

But effective parenthood – which all parents aspire for – requires a good balance of love and discipline. It means the kids can’t have it all their way through and through. Young people need to be reined in somehow or their natural inexperience in life could make them too adventurous, which could be risky.  

First and foremost, children (no matter their age) need their parents’ love. According to the website http://drjamesdobson.org: “In homes where children are not adored by at least one parent (or a parent-figure), they wither like a plant without water.” The website mentions a strange disease, called “marasmus” in the olden times in England, afflicting infants who are not loved, touched, and caressed that often end up in death.

The http://drjamesdobson.org website also cites recent studies that “indicate that the mother-child relationship during the first year of life is apparently vital to the infant’s survival.” It does not mean to say, however, that kids have to be lavished with excessive love. In fact, the website points out that the so-called “super love” has its hazards, too.

Many parents are tremendously child-oriented, to the point of spoiling the kids by their love. This is observably more true of the present generation than in generations past. The reason perhaps for this new parental actuation is the fact that parents today are mostly both working, and they try to give their kids so much love as a way of compensating for their absence from the home.

Even homebound parents may overdo their love for their children. There are parents who’d swear that their children are their only source of satisfaction in living. They devote all their time and attention to the kids – plus boundless tolerance for their young – that they unwittingly miss out on their other important tasks and responsibilities, and blur the authority line at home.

Over-loving parents also tend to be overprotective. They find it so hard to deal with any child illness or let the kids be exposed to the slightest threat. While, yes, this is very stressful for the parents, the children are often victims too. 

Exposing the kids to reasonable risks is necessary for their growth and development. Children who are denied nothing are actually denied of the process for becoming emotionally mature. It is common to see overprotected and over-tolerated kids acting like spoiled brats.

Parents will swear that they only want the best for their children. Psychologist Sherrie Campbell, PhD writes at www.huffpost.com that functional happy children are the products of parental love mixed with firm discipline. “What this means is that parents need to, first and foremost, be disciplined themselves,” she explains.

“If parents aren’t disciplined, there is no chance of disciplining their children correctly,” Dr. Campbell continues. “Discipline should come from natural consequences, or the law of cause and effect. It should not come from induced fear, humiliation, shame, yelling or any form of physical or emotional coercion.”

Parents shall care about how their children feel, more than how the kids behave. The kids need to learn that they are important, that they can make mistakes and will still be unconditionally loved. Then the kids will come to see discipline as proof that their parents care for them.

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