You disagree with parenting?
Parenting is hard enough without so many voices disagreeing with how we raise our kids. At the same time, if a child is endangered or is emotionally abused, it’s time to speak up. It’s not so wrong to not always agree, but how we go about it when we disagree about parenting is what is paramount.
In the normal throes of life, we need to allow parents to raise their kids without withholding support in their raising. You’ve been there. A parent deals out consequences, reprimands a child, or withholds a privilege that you think is just too harsh. After all, he’s “only three” or “didn’t understand,” or “all the other parents allow their kids to do it”.
Disagreeing with parenting through through vibes or osmosis
We don’t have to say a word, but the child feels those vibes – and so does the parent. That’s not supportive parenting. We might not do it the way the parent does it and possibly think they are too lenient or too strict.
In addition, we might never have required that of our child, and we might truly think the parent is too harsh. Yet, unless the child is endangered, it must not be our lot in life to make the parent change.
The problem is we get caught in the heat of the moment and “feel” for the child. Instead, we ought to be looking years down the road at what the desired outcome is for this child’s misbehavior. The way we map out getting to that outcome might be different than another parent; yet,it’s not our job to correct a parent’s way of disciplining.
The other side to consider is that we don’t know the history of this behavior problem. We don’t know how many times the parents have tried – and maybe failed – to bring the behavior under control. Often we don’t know the discussions that have been had with the child or siblings. All we know is what we see in the moment. Yet here we are, disagreeing with parenting when we know so little about what is happening.
When a child is in danger
When you know a child is in danger, it’s time as an adult to speak up. You might be able to speak to one or both parents. Perhaps you can broach the subject to another family member. There are other avenues in the community where you can find help for a child when you know the child is in danger. If the child is involved in your church, speak to a pastor or a teacher. You can talk to people in law enforcement and let them direct you to the correct folks in your county.
However, in instances where the child is not in harm’s way and is not in danger, there are things we should and should not do.
So what to do?
Remember that your parents probably were as aghast at some of your parenting as you are of your own or somebody else’s. Remind yourself that we get better with experience. Allow the parents to learn by experience just as you did. Here are some ways you can do this.
STOP bleeding sympathy to the child. It confuses the child and stymies the parent. Nix your power struggle with the parent and reckon that the parent is the parent and you are not. What you require at your house is one thing. But don’t try to let the kids or parents feel that no matter what they do, you think you know better than they.
LOOK at the situation and get answers by asking questions. Telling a parent what to do when not asked is not beneficial. Sometimes asking questions can help a parent figure out what is happening; it might help them come up with answers on their own. Asking questions in a non-judgmental way can sometimes help you get clarification and help the parent figure out what the problem really is – without you telling them.
LISTEN to the parent and the child without judging. Assume they have a reason for their method of discipline; assume the child is not perfect and needs correction. Stop bleeding sympathy to a child who probably needs consequences more often than not. When a parent knows you are on his side, he will more readily share with you what is happening and the frustrations he is experiencing. If the parent is struggling with being too lenient, listen to them explain what they’ve tried and, when asked, give suggestions. Sometimes listening can help you and the parent figure out where to go from here without feeling criticized because you disagree with their parenting.
How to support while you disagree with parenting
Negativity only breeds distrust. Find ways to affirm and be positive, even if it seems small and insignificant. Remember to nix the criticism, ask questions to help bring clarification, and listen to learn ways you can help instead of hinder. Don’t forget what it was like when you were parenting – then become the kind of person you needed when you were in the trenches.