Balanced Parenting


There has to be a balance between the “love” side of parenting and the “responsibility” side of parenting.

The Love Side

I know a family in which the mother was emotionally abused as a child. Even after years of personal counseling, she still had things to learn. She was great at being a dictator to her children. It is natural and easy for her to yell, scream, and set up very strict limits. She is a drill sergeant, who can set up consequences faster than most parents.

But when her child came home complaining about being teased at school, she was stumped. What drill sergeant method works for that? She wanted to help her child have a positive self-image, but didn’t know how to help him have that. She needed training.

She sought help. She came to me, and we discussed many things she could do to help her children. She learned how she was repeating the same things her parents did. She grieved the pain from her own childhood experiences, so she could move on to learn new parenting skills.

Her child is now learning specific techniques for coping with the teasing and bullying at school. Her child now truly feels the love and acceptance from her mother. The child is benefiting from this mother’s hard work.

The Responsibility Side

I know a family whose 14 year old daughter never had to earn any money. She doesn’t do chores, and doesn’t contribute to the household duties. It has never been expected of her. When she wants to go to the mall, or to the movies with her friends, her parents give her $40. She doesn’t pick up her room, because her mom always does it for her. She doesn’t have to clear the table, do dishes or vacuum, because her mom always does it for her. She has an attitude of entitlement, and can’t figure out why school is so “hard.” (Because her mom can’t do school for her, perhaps.) Though well-meaning, this mom is enabling her daughter to continue to be irresponsible.

I know another family whose 7 year old daughter asks for scholastic books from the book order form every month. Her parents say the same thing, every month, “Do you have money for that?” At one point, she ran around the house, doing every paid chore on the list, the night before the book order was due. She earned $6, and chose one of the books on the list. These parents are working hard to teach their children about responsibility.

These small choices of parents can set up a child to have an attitude of gratitude and responsibility, or an attitude of entitlement. Which one is likely to work hard, as an adult? Which one is likely to contribute to society, knowing that her contributions, help herself, and her community? Which one is likely to become a “victim” of society, claiming “it wasn’t my fault,” being fired, going bankrupt, or collecting welfare?

parenting resources

helpful websites

  • Love and Logic
    Bestselling author Jim Fay, founder of the "Love and Logic" process.
  • Focus on The Family
    Provides parenting advice and other family issues from a Christian perspective. Founded by Dr. James Dobson.
  • TroubledWith: Parenting Children
    Resources dealing with various common childhood issues and what a parent can do.