Everyone wants to be the cool parent, but parenting is a major responsibility. It’s difficult to strike a balance between being a friend and a protector.
We all know the parents who desperately want to be friends with their children. Their kids are the ones who don’t have curfews and can wear anything they want. You may even be able to spot their parents decked out in the latest teenage trends. When you really think about it, you don’t want to be that parent.
And then there are parents on the other end of the spectrum who set such strict rules that their kids can barely breathe. Their kids are the ones who act like adults and don’t have time for friends. You probably don’t want to be that parent either.
But from one extreme to another, there’s one thing we all have in common. We all want the best for our kids. In truth, what’s best for them is a balance between the extremes. Your children should feel comfortable talking to you about anything, but they should also have boundaries.
Parenting doesn’t come with a manual because every child and situation is different. But there are some common tips that you may be able to apply to your family.
How to balance being a good parent with being lenient :
When it comes to being the best parent you can be, you’ll find that consistency is key. Here are some general tips for balancing discipline with leniency:
- Set clear rules – The best way to ensure you’re not constantly yelling at your kids is to set clear rules. If your kids know what’s expected of them at all times, they won’t accidentally break the rules. They may break some on purpose, but that’s another story.
- Pick your battles – Especially when they’re entering into their teenage years, kids will break some rules. At this point, you should know which battles are worth fighting. Drinking milk from the carton is a behavior that should be addressed, but it’s not a major offense. Don’t abandon simple rules altogether, but do temper your response to match the situation.
- Be consistent – It’s one thing for your kids to know the rules. It’s another thing for them to know the punishment for breaking the rules. If they think you won’t follow through on the punishment, it’s as good as not having any at all.
- Handle their problems – In order to balance the friendship part of this equation, your kids must feel comfortable talking to you about anything. This includes moments when they’ve screwed up. If they come to you with a problem, try not to judge. Listen and try to help them solve the issue. As they get older, they may come to you with more serious problems, like addiction or teenage pregnancy. They’ll look to you to answer questions about their problem, which may mean giving parenting advice to your young child. Or you may need to dispel myths about treatment for addiction. As an adult, as they seem, teenagers don’t know as much as they often think they do. It’s your job to help them through these very adult problems.
The best parents know how to relate to their kids on their level, but they also know how to set rules and enforce discipline. It’s true that parents can be friends, but that friendship can never sacrifice the child’s safety.