“Your parents are so strict!”
Some parents in years gone by wore the label of ‘strict’ parent like a badge of honour!
It signified parents who were willing to stand their ground with kids.
A ‘strict’ parent was someone who placed restrictions on their children. They wouldn’t allow a child to visit a friend’s house because they had to do their homework first.
They wouldn’t allow a young teen the freedom to go out in the evening, or if they did made sure a teenage was home at a reasonable time.
A ‘strict’ parent was someone who made sure that a young person turned up for dinner rather than stay in their bedroom watching television.
Strictness was reserved for parents who put boundaries in place and made sure they were adhered to.
There’s a now a NEW definition for a ‘strict’ parent.
A ‘strict’ parent is now someone who makes children do things for themselves and also insists they help at home. They insist their children put their dirty clothes in the laundry. They who insists kids make their own lunches in secondary school, and maybe even wash their own clothes. A ‘strict’ parent is one who insists kids set the meal-table without giving them a cent in return.
‘Strict’ now refers to getting kids to help rather than placing restrictions on them.
Many parents tell me that they get funny looks when their children help them with the supermarket shopping. When their kids walk a kilometre home from sports or leisure activity they are made to feel like neglectful parents. How bizarre!
The new parenting normal is for parents to do a lot for your kids, rather than kids do things for themselves. Anyone who strays from this new normal and develops real independence can be made to feel guilty…………..because they are strict!
Do less, not more
As I wrote in Thriving! the job of parents is to make themselves redundant, not in a relational sense, but in a managerial sense from their kids.
There is nothing revolutionary about this idea. It’s been the aim of parents since the dawn of time. That means we spend a lot of time teaching kids self-help skills (now known as life skills), which are the ordinary gist of life.
These include teaching young children to tie their shoelaces; helping primary-aged to ask for what they want from adults; and coaching teenagers to negotiate their way safely on public transport as well as problem-solve relational issues they may have with teachers at school.
These are not the activities of ‘strict’ parents. Rather they are the activities of parents who understand one of their key roles is to equip kids to stand on their own two feet in the world outside the family home.
BUT the best place to do this is within the family. And the best time to start developing independence is from a young age………..when developmentally kids are up for it!
Don’t wait until your children are 18 to develop help-skills. If you introduce self-help then, my bet is they won’t think you are strict…........they’ll think you’ve been a soft touch all along and they’ll now battle you all the way!
But that’s a story for another day!
In the meantime, if the definition of ‘strict’ has changed then I urge you to go ahead and be strict! Your kids will thank you……… later on, when you’ve equipped them with the problem-solving and independence skills needed to negotiate the wider world without you!
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