My husband and I have been attending a monthly parenting class that is part of our commitment to supporting our son in his new school. We took our second class a few weekends ago and once again, I left wishing I had been able to have these courses sooner in my journey as a parent.
My biggest takeaway so far has been a parenting paradigm that proposes there are some common and polarizing parenting styles that we can all fall into.
At one end is the Permissive Style and it is what it sounds like. It’s a style that can be overly indulgent and resistant to boundaries and routines. At the other end is the Authoritarian Style. This style can be very controlling and harsh with lots of rules and punishments. Right in the middle of these two opposite styles is the Ambivalent Style that is neither one or the other. And off to the side somewhere is the Negligent or Neglectful Style.
When solo-parenting, swinging between Permissive and Authoritarian is very common and often being overly permissive or overly authoritarian in a particular situation can cause your parenting behavior to swing to the other style after some time.
Parents as a team can also polarize against each other on this spectrum. A sort of good cop/bad cop of parenting if you will. My husband and I looked at each other knowingly during this part of the discussion as we completely recognized this happening with us at various times when working with our son.
None of these styles are ideal and tend to create a lot of turmoil and drama in a family. The goal, the facilitator told us, is to have a Deliberate Style. This is the thoughtful, considered and reflective style of parenting that is responsive, but not reactive. It’s the style with a plan or in cases where plans haven’t been determined, it’s the style with guiding principles and evidence at it’s steady center.
I want to be deliberate, but in a bigger, wider sense. I want to be a deliberate human. I want to be a thoughtful, considered and reflective parent, spouse, sibling, friend, co-worker and Earth resider. This also extends to my own internal dialogue and to the stories I create and tell about my life as it is being lived. I want to be deliberate.
And so I’m challenging myself to…
- Breathe more before I speak
- Smile more to encourage joy to make its way from the inside to the outside and back again
- Listen more to what others say – really listen not just hear
- Reach out more to others to give and get support
- Hear what my body is telling me – slow down, speed up, rest, run, work, play more tennis
- Sit with uncomfortable emotions
Deliberate is not a synonym for safe. You can be thoughtful, considered and reflective about risks just as much as you can be about day-to-day recurring activities. Deliberate is a method for going about your life. I want to be deliberate.