Meet Angie. She grew up with parents who were super strict, always on her case. They didn't care much about how she felt and weren't big on empathy or understanding. If she was even five minutes late, they'd come down on her hard, using yelling and hitting as their go-to punishments.
Angie, despite being a good kid, felt pretty sad and lonely. When she became a parent herself, she knew she didn't want to repeat that cycle. She wanted her kids to feel valued and important, not like they had to follow orders all the time.
So, Angie became a loving mom. She spent quality time with her kids, played with them, listened, and showered them with affection. But here's the catch: Angie, eager for her kids to feel important, often put her own needs aside. She believed her children's feelings were more important than hers. This led her to become a permissive parent, giving in to her kids' demands.
The problem? Authoritarian parenting left Angie undervaluing herself, while permissive parenting resulted in her kids feeling entitled and not always respectful toward others.
Neither the strict approach nor the laid-back one is the way to go. Loving parenting is about valuing both the parent's and the children's feelings and needs. Loving parents don't try to control their kids (unless it's about health and safety), and they don't let their kids control them. No anger, blame, or hitting. No expecting kids to sacrifice for others, but also no parents giving up everything for their children.
Loving parents have a solid sense of self. They set clear limits, don't get manipulated, and aren't overly invested in their kids' achievements. They accept their kids for who they are, even if they're different. Not imposing their way of being, but reinforcing values like honesty, integrity, caring, compassion, kindness, and empathy.
But here's the kicker: to be a loving parent, you've got to do some inner work. If you're carrying fears of rejection or domination from your own past, you'll act on those fears without even realizing it. Trying to control your kids out of fear, using anger, or giving in – all signs of unhealed wounds.
Raising healthy children starts with healing your own inner child – that part of you with fears and insecurities, trying to protect against rejection and domination. Society has seen enough swings between strict and lenient parenting, and it's clear neither works perfectly. The rising numbers of people dealing with mental health issues, addiction, crime, and incarceration tell us that.
Embracing an artful balance and nurturing a loving parenting style not only benefits individual families but contributes to a healthier society.
In this evolving journey of parenthood, let's consider the art of balance and healing, creating a space where both parents and children can thrive emotionally, mentally, and creatively.