Last week, I discussed a common parenting style – parenting the “easy way.” It is a common parenting style, because parents are often stressed and tired. We want peace and quiet, and we want them now.
We don’t feel strong enough to parent in a way that could cause friction and conflict now, even if it means achieving clarity and consistency in the long term. In other words, we’d rather avoid disciplining our kids because it’s hard work!
Today I’d like to discuss a different style of parenting which is also quite common, and is just as harmful to family relationships: parenting the hard way.
Parenting the hard way is a tough, detached parenting. It is very different than parenting the easy way, but it too stems from parents being too stressed to give real thought to how they discipline their kids.
Parenting the hard way can manifest itself in different ways. You may find yourself raising your voice at your children or hurling insults at them. You may be punishing them often, severely.
Parenting the hard way used to work in generations past, when families were patriarchal and autocratic. Of course, even when it “worked,” it came with a price: fathers were often emotionally detached form their children. The children feared them, but did not feel close to them. Today, this way of parenting cannot work.
Children have a right to be heard and respected. When you parent them the hard way, you end up pushing them away.
A sad example of parenting the hard way is mentioned in my book, Your Family Constitution [link]. A mother was trying to discipline her teenaged boy the hard way, by telling him that if he couldn’t follow her rules, he wasn’t welcome in her house anymore.
Unfortunately, parenting the hard way seriously backfired: her son moved out to live with friends and never came back.
Parenting the hard way is incredibly risky. Next week, I will discuss a better way of parenting – parenting the constitutional way.