Whether or not to be strict with your teenager child is the most frequently asked question among parents. There hardly would be a parent who wouldn’t have agonized over this question. As a child grows, any parent would wonder whether to be a strict disciplinarian or a permissivist. And most of us are always confused about this, no wonder you’ll never find a parent admitting that “I am authoritarian” or “I am permissive”. These terms are only reserved for those with whom you disagree.
If you were to ask me, I’d say that we must realize that it is not necessary to make a choice between the two styles of parenting. Why stick to the ‘either-or’ battle? Why not adopt a third style altogether? What’s the third style? Moderation!
As parents to an adolescent, it is important to realize that though your child will always remain your ‘little one’, they are growing up and developing a thought process so they will need their own space to put it into action. You shouldn’t go wild on your teen because he or she came home half an hour later than their stipulated return-home deadline. Teenage is the time your child is discovering him/herself and if you take up an authoritative stance at such a sensitive phase in their life they may find themselves left alone. It is hence important to be a friend to your child.
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Maintaining control on your child has been proven the most ineffective way of child-rearing often resulting in the children becoming subservient or rebellious. But I do understand that no parent would what to suffer the chaotic consequences of unrestricted freedom and permissive carelessness either. This is why we must try our level best to be moderately strict and moderately lenient at the same time. Be your child’s best friend and give them the liberties that aren’t harmful. Do what it takes to make your child’s character good. And refrain from being at either extreme end of the scale. We asked a few parents and teenagers on their views on the topic and here’s what some of them had to say.
18-year-old Arts student Vidya Gopalakrishnan said, “My parents are not really strict with me, in terms of being friends with boys or going to parties, and all. But I do have certain limitations and deadline, for e.g. I can hang out with boys as long as I am not the only girl in the gang, and I can go partying with my close friends in a group but I need to inform my parents of my whereabouts and also need to be home by 9 pm. Most of these simple rules do make sense to me. So I wouldn’t say my parents are controlling me, but they are protective and it makes me feel cared for.”
Also read: Want to be friends with your parents?
Father of two, Ejaz Ahmed, 40, said, “I have two boys and I tend to be extremely protective of them as my elder one is a teenager now. This is a coming-of-age phase for him so I’m always anxious and keep trying to discipline him but my wife stops me. She is a child psychologist and understands the fact that he needs his time and space, and he understands his boundaries and limits. Thanks to my wife’s friendliness with my son, we have never had any serious issue with him and he is always honest about his activities and the company he keeps. Parents need to be more relaxed with their children, and give them a chance to prove themselves.”
Murli Jaikishan (name changed on request) always kept a tab on his daughter and ensured he kept her in well-set limits. However, one day when he received a call from the police station, he was devastated. Recalls Murli, “The cop informed me that my daughter was one of the 20 odd students picked up at a rave party. I couldn’t believe it. She had told me she is going to college. Later, when I apprehended my daughter for lying to me and landing up at such a place, she said that she was feeling claustrophobic under my extreme regulations, and hence this was her way to break free. I was dumbfounded.”
Adolescents are like sand in the hand – the tighter you hold them, higher are the chances that they may spill out; keep them open, they will fly with wind; so, it’s essential to keep them protected without they feeling the heat!