Do you believe there a right way or wrong way to raise children? This question has been the fuel for many heated discussions and debates throughout the years between parents, parenting coaches, psychologists and parenting experts. It is the one thing all parents will have an opinion on…how to raise their children. Parents take raising their children very personally and for the most part believe that because they have either biologically produced or legally assumed responsibility for a child’s life they instinctively know what is best for that child. Parenting professionals tend to incorporate their personal thoughts and opinions that are reflective of their own personalities and experiences into their approach to parenting and strongly support their method.
This is not the same as a parent struggling with specific situations feeling they could benefit from an outside opinion or guidance from a family member, friend or even a parenting coach. In fact, almost all of the families I work with come with a detailed agenda that they would like to address. It can be anything from an unwanted behavior to a particular emotion they are struggling with such as fear, anxiety or frustration. Regardless, they all stem from the desire to change something very specific either in their child’s behavior or in their relationship with their child.
But when you are discussing the “right” or “wrong” of parenting, every parent I know will argue the point that they know their children better than anyone (which is not always the case) and therefore know better than anyone how to relate or “handle” their children. The common belief is that because every person is so unique there can’t be a one-size-fits-all style of parenting. What works for one may not work for another. And this is true…to an extent.
Although my parenting method is deeply rooted in the belief of respecting the individuality and uniqueness of every child, we do have to face the fact that we are all first and foremost human beings. And with that comes certain things we all have in common.
And although the commonalities are very general characteristics I believe they are at the core of what is “right” and what is “wrong” when the goal is to successfully guide children to live happy and successful lives.
- Do you know anyone who responds well to constant criticism?
- Do you know anyone who performs at their best when being screamed at?
- Do you know anyone who reacts in a positive way when surrounded by negativity?
I think we can all agree that the answer is no to all of these questions.
With all of that being said, I do believe there is a right way and wrong way to raise your children. However, I also believe that the “right way” is unique to each family and determining it depends on one very important consideration.
What are your immediate and long-term goals for your child?
- Do you want your child to be independent or dependent?
- Do you want your child to be cooperative?
- Do you want your child to have an attitude of gratitude?
- Do you want your child to be respectful and considerate?
- Do you want your child to love themselves and love life?
- Do you want your child to openly communicate with you?
- Do you want your child to trust you?
- Do you want your child to have a positive attitude?
- Do you want your child to be respectful?
- Do you want your child to have a sense of personal responsibility?
- Do you want your child to go through life fulfilled and passionate?
- Do you want your child to have the courage to live out his dreams?
Determining the answer to these critical questions will provide you with very specific criteria as to how you need to approach your parenting journey. It is a matter of identifying the intended outcome and then applying the proper ingredients to achieve the desired results. To do otherwise is not a recipe for success but a recipe for anxiety, frustration and stress. It is no different than saying you want to bake a cake and then leaving out eggs and adding sugar instead of flour. When you have clearly defined your desires for your children (what kind of cake) you will then have a specific list of ingredients that you must incorporate into raising your children…otherwise you will never get the result (delicious cake) that you want.
Of course you will have to adapt your approach with consideration for your child’s personality and character traits (some ovens cook faster/slower than others so you need to adjust the temperature and baking time). And this is where your unique knowledge of your child comes into play. You will know how your child learns best, what things they respond to and what things shut them down.
My granddaughter Kaitlyn, has a very open-minded personality and is always anxious to learn. Open communication is very effective with her. Her brother, Zachary, is all about instant gratification which prompts him to frequently act without thinking through possible consequences. I have learned, by understanding these differences between them, that I need to relate to them very differently. What is the “right” way to raise Kaitlyn is the absolute “wrong” way to raise her brother.
You must always be mindful of the missing secret to successful parenting…which is that you are the most powerful influence in your children’s lives and what you model to your children will have a huge impact on what you will see in your children. Determining whether you are parenting your children the right way or the wrong way will depend solely on whether or not you are providing the necessary ingredients for the desired result you want. AND if you are not, then understanding you have the power to choose to change the recipe!