Last weekend I had an amusing discussion about parenting with some lovely friends who are four weeks away from welcoming a new baby girl into the world. We were talking about discipline and setting boundaries for children; something we’ve all been through and probably witnessed and perhaps even imparted.
The expectant couple are wonderful people who are kind, loving, fair, intelligent, warm, friendly, fun, full of delight – all the things you hope your parents are and then some!
The Mum comes from a Chinese family with an upbringing that sounds as though it was fairly traditional but not in a feet binding way. Dad is Aussie from a larger family who grew up climbing trees and getting into boy mischief.
We were talking about the different ways to teach a child why they should listen to their parents and do what they’re told…no mean feat but one that can be mastered. My parents surely won the battle in a way where I have more respect and love for them than they will ever know.
Two main approaches came up for discussion:
- ‘Because I said so’ / ‘Because I’m your mother/father and I said so’
- the 5 minute explanation and then subsequent answering of ‘why?’
There are times when a simple explanation of consequences can be painstaking but set the child up to make decisions late in life based on their learnings through childhood.
But, there is also the argument that kids should listen to their elders and do what they say as a matter of respect. And sometimes a situation warrants a stressed, overwhelmed parent to just want their child to do something because they’ve been asked to and it would make life easier at that moment. Both situations, I feel, have weight.
I feel I had a balanced approach from my parents. They are very fair people who explain why so we have an understanding of a situation.
We (me and the company I was in) tended to agree that a blended approach seemed a good way to do things. There are times when an explanation will help the child’s development and decision making. And there are times when “because I said so” should be enough.
Thinking back to my childhood, if it ever got to a ‘because I said so’ status I know I’d probably pushed the boundaries a little further than I should have!