What defines your parenting style?

Oooo-er! How do you answer that? Where do you start, whatever would you say?

I was spouting gobbledegook when I got asked it a little while ago.

It was a journalist looking for a quick one-line answer as they always do. And I cringed as I always do with journalists and wanted to waffle on – as I always do!

But maybe that’s because I hadn’t ever properly thought this through. It got me thinking –what would be my answer?

In the end I got beyond a one-liner; I got it refined down to one word.

RESPECT

You might have thought I’d say LOVE. But you can’t actually have love without respect. You don’t truly love someone without having respect for who they are. Love and respect are intricately linked. You can’t love someone you have no respect for because it becomes abusive or controlling. Loving is not controlling.

You might have also thought I’d say CARE.  But if you think about it, that’s what respect is really. Care for one another, care in the way you behave towards one another, care for each others’ feelings, in the perspective of your own too and how you interact with others. Care is demonstrated through respect, isn’t it?

Your respectful behaviour towards others demonstrates a kind of care for them. So BEHAVIOUR is another element of respect. And that’s the greatest way of teaching your children about respect too. The way you behave towards them sets them an example. You can’t behave one way and expect your child to do something different. You have to be respectful towards them if you want them to be respectful towards you and others.

And that also extends beyond people to your behaviour towards your home, your environment, the planet, your work, your lifestyle. Respect needs to inform everything you do as a parent. That’s how you raise respectful people. Your RESEPCTFUL, CARING BEHAVIOUR teaches others around you about respect.

Some people cite discipline as a form of respect. They think discipline means respect. In a way it’s part of it – but it’s usually the wrong sort of discipline they’re thinking about. Many parents (and teachers) think kids should have discipline as if it’s something you add on by forcing it into them (not respectful!). But the only form of discipline that works is one that’s initiated in the self and that’s SELF DISCIPLINE. Self discipline is learned from the example of self discipline our kids have demonstrated to them by you. From the example of SELF RESPECT you’re giving.

I looked up ‘respect’ in the dictionary just to check. The meaning relevant to parenting is: ‘due regard for the feelings, wishes and rights of others’.

I would say that is exactly what defines my parenting.

And respect is MUTUAL in this house. Always has been. Always will be.

And even though I’ve waffled on, that is the one word that truly defines my parenting style and through which we’ve always expressed our love for one another:

RESPECT!

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