All parents in America essentially face the same challenge: how do we raise children who make good decisions and have a good chance to succeed in our incredibly complex, fast-changing world?
It’s not an easy task. “Life-and-death decisions confront teenagers—and even younger children—at every turn,” wrote Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fay in their time-tested parenting book Parenting with Love and Logic. “Many of the temptations of adult life—drugs, internet pornography, premarital sex, alcohol—are thrown at kids every day.” How will they be able to handle such pressures?
We want to raise our kids in the name of love but love can get us into trouble. “Our noble intentions are often our own worst enemy when it comes to raising responsible kids,” wrote Cline and Fay. “Many of the worst kids—the most disrespectful and rebellious—often come from homes where they are shown love, but it’s just the wrong kind of love.”
Three parenting styles in particular are to be avoided. “Love and Logic parents avoid the helicopter and drill sergeant mentalities by using a consultant style of parenting as early as possible in the child’s life,” wrote Foster Cline and Jim Fay. “They ask their children questions and offer choices. Instead of telling their children what to do, they put the burden of decision-making on their kids’ shoulders.”
Helicopter parents hover over and then rescue their children whenever trouble arises. “They’re always pulling their children out of jams.” Unfortunately, that approach will eventually leave those children “unequipped for the challenges of life.” warn Cline and Fay. “The real world does not run on the bail-out principle.”
Also to be avoided: the “drill sergeant” approach. These are loving parents who believe “the more they control, the better their kids will be in the long run.” Since they are constantly told what to do, they are just as dependent on their parents as the kids of the aforementioned helicopter parents.
The third ineffective parenting style is encountered less often: the laissez-faire parent. “These are parents who for one reason or another… decide to let their children raise themselves,” an approach that Cline and Fay regard as a “cop-out or misunderstanding of parenting responsibilities.”
Children need thoughtful guidance and firm, enforceable limits. Skillful parents set those limits based on the safety of the child and how the child’s behavior affects others. Then they must maintain those limits to help children understand that they are responsible for their actions and will suffer reasonable consequences for actions that are inappropriate.
“However, while the parents are drawing and holding these limits, it is important for them to continue encouraging their children to think about their behavior and help them feel in control of their actions by giving choices within those limits,” Cline and Fay recommend. Parents should operate as “consultants.” They should become “advisors and counselors more than police officers, allowing their adolescents to make more decisions for themselves, and then guide them to successfully navigate the consequences of those decisions.”
Paradoxically, parents who try too hard to ensure their children’s success, frequently raise unsuccessful kids while “loving and concerned parents who allow for failure wind up with kids who tend to choose success.”
Effective parenting support is an important element of any treatment approach for substance use disorder. Avanti Behavioral Health has developed an effective and highly involved method of family counseling. For more information about our IOP and family programming call us at (720) 753-4030.