Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Why strict parenting works and why do parents have problems being strict?
Why do parents have problems being strict
I remember conversation that I had with my friend when Smarty was about 2 years old. He said, Your daughter is a well-behaving child, but you are very strict with her. She just blinks wrong, and she is already in timeout. Ever since, we had the same reaction – people were complimenting good behavior of our daughter, but their eyebrows went up when they heard me and especially my husband using The Voice (readers of Dune Chronicles will know what I mean) when correcting our daughter’s behavior in public. I was also called a “Tiger Mom” by acquaintances when I shared my approach to teaching my child to read early.

Why Do Parents Hesitate Being Strict?

When children rule the roost
It seems that in US being strict is equated with authoritarian parenting – with the father who hits, with the mother who yells and puts down her kids. It is associated with “do as I say” approach in parent-child relationship. Modern parents are expected to be “different” – to be sensitive, to attend to the needs of their children, to “prevent” bad behaviors through ingenious hacks. We are expected to be “friends” with our children instead of what we are meant to be – people who raise them, who move them from total dependency on us to total responsibility for their own actions.
I am not saying that being a sensitive parent is bad. In fact, I consider myself and my husband to be sensitive parents fairly attuned to the needs of our daughter. But I’ve seen so many examples of outrageously bad behavior of children in real life with parents doing nothing to correct behavior of preschool age children who take things without permission, ignore other adults, or are clearly mean to other children. Then these children go to school where the behavior expectations are higher, and they start failing from day one, because they are not used to boundaries being set at home. In “best case scenario”, some kids react to this change of expectations by behaving well in school and rising to expectations, but becoming even more impossible at home where they are allowed to “be themselves”.

I Am a Strict Parent, and I Am Not Sorry

My parents never pushed me
Yes, my husband and I are strict with our daughter. We have high expectation of her behavior, and we have rules of the house that we expect her to follow. There are consequences for breaking the rules. Of course, we read that natural consequences are best, but more often than not, we cannot use “natural consequences” for, say, not cleaning her room which is her normal chore, and we use “agreed upon” consequences – timeouts or privilege withdrawals. In our house, we don’t hit, but we do raise our voice occasionally. The key here is that we do all this not randomly, not because we are having a bad day or our daughter has a bad day. My husband and I talked about our approaches to discipline even before our daughter was born, and we keep talking and adjusting our behavior  as she grows older and changes.
You see, to us discipline is a form of love. Setting the limits for our child shows her that we care about her. Changing the limits and rules as she grows shows her that we are more confident in her ability to think for herself, that we give her more freedom and expect her to take more responsibility. I read somewhere that strict parents create sneaky children. I think that this is a major misconception. Inconsistent and unfair parents create sneaky children. Our 8 year old is incredibly honest and tells us when she was not following the rules even when we were not present during her transgression. This tells me that she considers our rules fair and she values our trust more than any transient reward she could get from “sneaking”.

Are We Always Consistent?

Hard Parenting Only robots are always consistent in their responses. Of course, we are not always consistent, and even between the two of us we have different ways to respond to the same event. However, we are very careful not to let our daughter “play favorites” and avoid the consequence by going to a more lenient parent. This is hard, folks, but we are doing it because we believe in our mission of raising a responsible human being who is able to self-regulate her behavior. We have our difficult moments, just as any other parents, but we are persevering in our intention to stay strict intentional parents.

True Facts of Strict Parenting

Here are some facts of strict parenting that are true for our family and, I hope, will ring true for other parents who are in the same camp of strict parenting regardless of how they were raised themselves.
Rules of Strict Parenting Your Turn:

Are you a strict parent?

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min said...

You will probably enjoy this article. Apparently, elephant parenting is on yhe rise which is why you might feel out of place. http://www.valuesparenting.com/nurturing/elephants.php

Personally, I have more of a softer style (we don't punish but talk things through) and it has worked for my family and the classes I taught. Other teachers would say my class was "sweet" because I was sweet with them. My friends are amazed how emotionally sensitive our daughter is and how empathetic she is. I think that's because her feelings were validated and respected.

Janine LaTulippe said...

I totally agree with everything you've said. I think a lot of parents can't get past the word "strict". They think it means Violent and Controlling. If there are consequences in the real world, we must have consequences for our children and help them learn what happens when they don't do the right thing. That doesn't mean we don't listen to our children or allow them to express how they feel, but ultimately they are children and as parents, we know what is best for them.
Someone said that one-size-fits-all parenting doesn't work, and I agree. Different children may react differently and need more attention and patience but having clear rules and enforcing them is a universal form of discipline that works for all people, even adults.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

I guess we are strict. We're strict when it comes to the behaviors that matter most to us, anyway. Doug grew up in an extremely authoritarian household. As the last of seven, and with a mother widowed when I was 9...my upbringing was a good deal more lax. There were ups and downs to both styles...and I think now as parents we're somewhere in between.

min said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ticia said...

Amen and amen.

Though it's so very very hard.

Theresa A said...

We are pretty consistent with our rules, consequences and rewards. Since we have four that are the same age, and we are consistent, they now turn the others in if they are breaking the rules (which is another funny deterrent for them).

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

I think consistency and disciplining without anger are the two most important things in parenting. I guess we would be strict parents also by your list.

Ashley Gingher said...

My husband and I would be strict parents also, by your terms. I'm okay with that. My children are well behaved for my the most part. It is important to me that my children grow up to be responsible, respectful adults.

Emma @ P is for Preschooler said...

Very well said! I do have a problem being "strict" but that's my personality. On the other hand, I don't think I let my daughter get away with things that she intentionally does wrong or that are hurtful or harmful. It sounds like you and your husband made a deliberate decision that is working well for your family - and that's all you can ask for! I've also seen parents where the kids are completely out of control and they say something like, "Honey, please stop that." Um, no. Get up and stop them!

DisneyMom said...


We often get comments that our son is very polite. We started early with please and thank you via sign language when he was a baby and built on from there. It's just a part of who he is now.

I see a lot of people who had a very laissez faire attitude with their children when they were young really paying for it now. They let them rule the roost and they don't understand why they aren't respectful now.

We've always had high expectations, but parentings is so much easier now. This year 8/9 years old has been really wonderful.

Kate Bregovic said...

A great post!