Thursday, October 27, 2011

Relational Vs. Control

"Stop trying to perfect your child,
but keep trying to perfect your
relationship with them."

There are two types of parenting styles, well, I'm sure there are 
technically more than that but there are two I am most
familiar with, and they are Authoritarian and Authoritative.

The Authoritative Parenting Model

Parents who are able to provide for both the discipline and self-esteem needs of their youngsters are referred to as authoritative. They clearly communicate high - but not unrealistic - demands for their children's behavior. They expect good things from their kids and reinforce those things when they occur. They also tend to give more positive encouragement at the right places. When kids act up, on the other hand, authoritative parents respond with firm limits, but without fits of temper. They are warm, reasonable and sensitive to a child's needs. They are supportive of a child's individuality and encourage growing independence. Authoritative parents tend to produce competent children. These kids are more self-reliant, self-controlled, content and happy. They are usually accepted and well-liked by their peers and perform better in school. Their self-esteem is good and they report having a happier childhood experience overall.

Authoritarian Parenting

Parents who tend to overemphasize the discipline side of the equation are referred to as authoritarian. Authoritarian parents are demanding in the worst sense of the word. They are intimidators, requiring obedience and respect above all else. They become overly angry and forceful when they don't get that obedience and respect. Their love and acceptance appear totally conditional to the child. They do not teach or listen to their kids or explain the reason for their expectations, which are frequently unrealistic. They often see their children's individuality and independence as irrelevant or threatening.

Research has shown that authoritarian parents tend to produce children who are more withdrawn, anxious, mistrustful and discontented. These children are often overlooked by their peers. Their self-esteem is often poor.

I am an Authoritative parent. All the way. From as far back as I can remember, I have been 

focused on relationships. I am WAY into relationships. It's a good thing God made us that way because It's something I think I am good at. 

That said, what I'd like to try to "teach" today and talk about is how my parenting style has worked for me. We all know that after having our children we are not given a guide book, or a "how to", so it's our responsibility to get some skills and tools if we find we need them. It's important to stay in tune with all of our relationships, especially with God, our significant others and as parents. 
I also want to be careful not to come off as preachy or judgement, so I will stick to what has worked for me. And then maybe, just maybe a few will have gained some new insight at the very least.

As I entered into Motherhood I got the sense that it was stressful and there was tension if I'd "try to change" something or try to "control" a behavior that my daughter was doing. I found that I wasn't getting anywhere when I approached it this way. 

I'd raise my voice, be short with her, and snap, and feel defeated and frustrated. Because I was trying to remedy a problem and I needed a solution. So since I am a problem solver and I had been in a Conflict Management course at work at the time; my daughter was almost 3- In that course I was learning so much. I started digging a little deeper, because I had been using this course in my real life to help with relationships, so I figured I could do a little research and find some info on parenting. I didn't have a computer at the time(well it was 1998, so no one really had computers in their homes)-- so I went to Barnes & Noble and was in heaven at all the books to choose from. But I had no money because I was a single mom, so I literally couldn't buy one book.
So what I did was just sat there in the middle of the isle with a notebook and wrote a bunch of different things down from all sorts of books. It was glorious! I thought it was pretty brilliant.

Basically I discovered the two parenting styles I listed above. I knew instantly that what I was doing at first was the Authoritarian, and I realized that was not working. It was not helping, it was hurting.

I started focusing on a relational based way of parenting with her at the age of 3 and it's what I've been doing ever since! Like I said, I had always been into authentic relationships and being real, so it fit for me, but I started to notice changes in her as well. 

I have a parenting blog here,  and I have lots of good articles you could check out. 
Some examples I can give are this. The main thing to keep in mind is that it's a style, a way that isn't controlling. 

Say your kid comes home from school frustrated(had a bad day) or they wake up crabby(whatever, you can pick your own example)-- If these things happened, what I would do is this:
-ask them how they are feeling, and what is wrong
-I would ask if I can help
-I would tell them I am sorry for how they are feeling
-I would encourage them in a supportive way, something affirming
-I would then listen to what they had to share
-I would thank them for sharing

I like to think of it as being an advocate for your kid. It's being extremely down to earth. It's giving them a voice. It's getting real with your kid. 

It isn't trying to control them when they have feelings we might not understand (actually we do understand, we've been 5, we've been 10 and we've been 16 before).
It isn't shutting them down or out when we think what they are going through or feeling is foolish.

 It isn't telling them "It's no big deal, you're fine."

The reason my other blog is called WALK WITH YOUR TEEN is because that is exactly what it is, walking through life with your kid. When you think of walking with someone, what do you think of? Side by side, right?  You don't think of being ahead of someone or behind them, you have to be side by side to pay attention, to care, to engage, to enter in.
When you walk with someone, usually there is some conversation, some dialog.

It's also not, not disciplining. It's very much disciplining. But in a relational way. What I mean by that is if when they make mistakes, it's not about just "punishing" them, or shaming them by telling them "You should know better" or "How could you be so stupid?" (sure we might feel those things, and want to scream that from the rooftops sometimes, but no way can that help)!
It's being honest and telling them you are disappointed in their choices,
it's asking them questions about why they did it, 
it's having discussions about important things 
that will shape them along the way. 
They will feel more respected, heard and validated.

It is very intentional. It is very time consuming. It is exhausting. It does take effort.
It is draining. It is a process.

But it is rewarding, it is sweet. It is a treasure. It is a blessing. It is exciting. It is beautiful. It is helpful. It's building something together. 

A lot of it is surrendering control and letting go. . .but in the right sense. With the knowledge that if we try to force our kids or try to make rules that no human can abide by, they will suffer more. Because they will find themselves in a shame based, punishment based, performance based lifestyle with you, and that can be detrimental, and they will close up, and shut us out. 
We have to give our kids the best foundation that we are able to, and get them rooted. Be an example for them. But when they get a certain age, we let go even more, and we start seeing them become their own people, and they will inevitably make their own choices, 
but we can start by being relational. Getting to their level so to speak.

We can take the time for them that they so desperately crave and need.

I hope at least some of this post made sense! It's hard to get it all in one post,
and that is why I suggested my other blog if you are interested. 
But this is something that has been very successful for me, and my daughter has
responded to it beautifully. We have had our glitches, of course, we are only human.
Mother's Day/2011

It was humbling and a gift to be able to "teach" you all something today, here's to 
parenting, and loving our kids the best way we know how! 
Thank you Mrs.T Naturally for the opportunity!


Halina said...

You must be the coolest Mom (after my own of course)!

Selina said...

Very helpful Gina!

Ashley @ LaLuce said...

this is so good Gina, and saving it and will tuck away to pull out when i'm a mama one day :)

Kassie said...

Hi! Thanks so much for commenting on lots of my post and being a follower! =) I read this post late the other night and didn't comment. I definitely want to be the authoritative parent! I hope I am because I sure love my baby boy!

Romwe Online said...

love that picture,impressively touched.
romwe kisses

Ashley said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and becoming a follower. I am now following you back on bloglovin! :)

Kelly said...

loving this post.

Day-Dreamin' Optimist said...

Well said, Gina - I enjoy the parenting post very much. Although I do not have children (yet), I will keep your words of wisdom at heart.
P.S. I love love love your new blog look!

CaseyWiegand said...

SOOOOO HELPFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!