Happy End of Summer, friends! My 12-year old has been telling me it’s NOT the beginning of the school year, it’s still summer. So happy end of summer!
Way in the beginning of the summer, I visited with a special young mother, Hannah Arnold. She shared with me all of the things about motherhood that I had somehow forgotten. The crazy kids doing all the things. The long nights and longer days.
After our conversation, I more or less went into research mode. I went to the library as well as online and got books. What kind of books? Parenting books, mostly. But I also got books on How to Renew the Church. Why that topic? Well, you will have to go back and read this post: A Beautiful, Frazzled Mother Shares Her Heart with Me if you want to delve into the why of it all, but basically, in a nutshell, if we are to transform the Church, we have to transform our homes, which are our Domestic Churches!
So I spent several days reading, which turned into weeks! (my kind of summer!)
I allowed myself that time because I believe it’s important -every so often- to take a good hard look at what we do and why we do it. That kind of DEEP reflection has helped me more than anything on this parenting journey.
And when I can start focusing on just ONE thing in a better way, then everything else seems to improve in my heart and in my home. So what I started with was a simple thing: my parenting style.
According to developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind as well as two researchers, Elanor Maccoby and John Martin, there are four different ways that parents go about their job of raising their children. We each have a style of parenting.
Four Main Types of Parenting Styles:
Now, I have been all four of those types. Sometimes on the daily. Why is that? Well, because children do this magical thing: they bring up our stuff.
You know what I mean. I WANT to be a certain way but I end up yelling too much or being too passive. I check out of life.
And we can easily just live there, playing the tapes that we were given.
But sooner or later, we know we can do better. We know there is probably a better road.
And I think that is absolutely brilliant on God’s part. He gives us these magnificent children and asks us to raise them for Him. We start out with awe and wonder. And then, as our children start being children, we, the parents, are confronted with our “ish”. (That’s the “technical term'' my family uses for our junk, our past, our wounds, our struggles. That’s our ish.)
And we have a decision to make when our ish shows up. Do we proceed down the road and just react? Or do we sit back and figure out a better way?
IS THAT NOT BRILLIANT? God uses our children -whom we love more than anything- to get us to become who we were designed to be!
Don’t you love that?
Now, the whole point of this post is to give you a simple mantra: High Love, High Discipline. That’s what Authoritative Parents model and it’s how I want to live.
But before I can model anything, Lori has to come from a place that is centered. See, I believe with all of my being that we mothers should have happy hearts. Now, if you are like me, that comes naturally when the kids are all sleeping. But when I have all of their needs colliding with Life in Real Time, then there are days when I just want to go live in a convent. Or on a beach. Alone. With a stack of books.
Keeping that natural aspect of parenting humans in mind, it’s important to figure out how to have that inner joy. For me, that means I pay attention to my emotional, spiritual, physical and social needs. This understanding about giving myself tender self care is something that I have grown into. I finally realized that if my well is dry, I cannot water the garden. So I am now pretty deliberate in allowing myself tender self care. And yes, I lovelovelove that phrase: Tender Self Care.
I have linked two of my self-care posts (with lots of examples of how to spend time on renewing the inner you) down below.
Okay, so there’s that. Mamas must be centered. Regulated. Or else nothing else really works, you know?
Once that is in place, I’d like to take a bit deeper look at the four parenting styles. Think of them as being on a sliding scale….the blue lines are the “scale” and it goes from zero to 100, meaning low to high.
Permissive parents have lots of love...but no control over their kids. They do all they can to make sure their child is happy. You’d think that would actually make the kid happy. Turns out, according to those smart people I listed above, kids want/need boundaries along with all of that lovin’.
Uninvolved parents have low discipline and low love. They aren’t really there for their kids. Maybe they have their own struggles, maybe they are distracted by their own needs. Maybe they just don’t care about their children. No matter how you slice or dice it, they aren’t really concerned about their kids one way or another. Not a good way to grow children.
Authoritarian parents have high discipline but low love. They are strict and enforce rules without considering the heart or development of their child. Communication is one way. Top down. Children don’t have a say. They are forced to obey by the strength of this parenting style. As you can imagine, this does not make for happy, well-adjusted kiddos. Oh, they might obey. But there is a lot going on below the surface. (Kids will fight being coerced and controlled in their own private way. Some may rebel. Some may work super hard to be perfect to gain the approval of that parent.)
Authoritative parents operate from a place of high discipline and high love. They set boundaries. They give directions as well as expectations. However, they communicate openly and respectfully. And interestingly, they let their children fail. The parents then help those bruised kids pick up the pieces, reflect and learn, teaching them values and reasoning skills along the way. According to the research, high discipline and high love is the best atmosphere for growth and maturity as well as self-confidence for kids.
I love that. So very much. And frankly, it’s something we all know intuitively. We KNOW that our kids need guidance WHILE we love them unconditionally. But it was nice to research and read about those four quadrants of parenting styles once again. (I have seen that here and there through the years, as you probably have, too.)
But when I read about that and looked at those charts, and thought of my own style of parenting (some days I think I ride the merry-go-round of quadrants), I made a decision. I want to live, as much as humanly possible, in the upper right hand quadrant. I want to show them high discipline and high love.
That means I think of how my children should live and I GUIDE THEM. That means my two 18-year old girls are not going to walk around with their head down, stuck in their phone. I must invite them into real life. (That darn phone is a bugger, isn't it?)
I help my 12-year old and 16-year old sons in specific ways. I don't just go do my own thing, but I ask good questions. I listen. I lean in. I learn from them. I guide them to who they are becoming.
And then I also have fun with them. Kids need to laugh.
Finally, and this is a WHOPPER: I hug them. All of them. Even the non-touchy-feely kids.
AND....drum roll.....they need to hear these three words: I.Love.You.
Trust me on that. (I may have overheard a group of really good, strong teens chatting about their parents and if they were not hugged or if they did not hear the words "I love you" they did not feel loved. I was shocked by that but it taught me to hug and say the words. Our kids want that. They need it.)
I’m sharing all of this with you because believe it or not, the atmosphere in our homes is created, by and large, by the parents.
That’s the best kind of news, don’t you think? You and I can be huge difference makers in the lives of our children.
High Discipline, High Love. Simple. Effective.
P.S. Here are those self-care posts I promised you:
Your Child Deserves the Best Version of You. I love this one. Read this if you have daughters.
Finding Your Happy. Okay, I love this one, too. Read this if you have a spouse.
If you’d like to invest more into YOU, then we have some powerful options:
The Inside Out Transformation: for mothers who just need to focus on their inner self. The link will bring you to a new page with a new podcast made just for women who are in need of that deeper dive.
The Parenting Dare 2.0 Proactive is our new course FILLED with tons of practical teachings and downloadable resources to help you build your family intentionally.
Note: The Parenting Dare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com!