Here is why these parenting styles are such a problem:
1. “Buddy buddy” Parents.
There is nothing wrong with being your child’s friend as long as you are the parent first. These “buddy buddy” parents are more focused on being their child’s friend than their parent and will often attempt to avoid conflict in an effort to stay in favor with their child. Buddy buddy parents are lax on boundaries and prone to giving into requests made by their child. A root cause of buddy-buddy parenting is low self-esteem. Being viewed as “cool” by their child and their child’s friends can be a boost to esteem. Ironically, the child is rarely sincere about the friendship and plays along to manipulate the results. Additionally, the parent’s true motive in seeking to be best buds is not really done for the goal of prioritizing the child; rather it’s about the parents’ need for approval.
Even if you do not embrace this parenting style, you need to be aware that there are many parents who do. While working on this chapter, I was tipped off by a concerned parent to some disturbing photos on Facebook of a party that took place at the home of a student from my children’s high school. Fortunately my children were not in attendance at this party where alcohol was flowing freely from a keg in the garage and the kitchen counter was littered with Keystone beer cans.
I was thinking, “Where in the world are the parents?” when suddenly I found my answer: a picture of good ol’ Dad in the kitchen posing with some girls, each of them with a beer in hand. And another picture of Dad’s girlfriend posing in between two high school guys who appear to be holding her up. By the looks of the picture, I suspect she’s filled up her cup one too many times at the keg she and good ol’ Dad probably purchased. I even found another picture of Dad’s girlfriend “booty-dancing” with one of the girls in the kitchen. Aren’t they “cool”? They’re so “cool,” I took a screen shot of the pictures and saved them to my desktop. I don’t know this couple, but I couldn’t help but wonder if the parents of the other kids at the party (or police for that matter) would think they’re cool for supplying alcohol to minors. Parents like this disgust me. Do they not realize that they are partially to blame if one person leaves that party intoxicated and an accident occurs?
2. “Too Busy to Care” Parents.
These are typically the parents who are running themselves ragged in their jobs or activities and left with little time to be engaged when it comes to parenting their child. Parenting is hard work and takes tremendous amounts of time and energy to stay engaged in what is going on in their child’s life. Drawing up boundaries, maintaining boundaries, and addressing issues when the boundary lines are crossed takes time. If time is short, these parents put aside parenting and only address critical issues as they arise, often reacting only after the damage has been done.
3. “Too Tuned Out to Notice” Parents.
These are typically the parents whose temperaments lend themselves to a more laid-back parenting style. While being laid back can be a positive quality in parenting, it can also be a detriment if it results in few boundaries and little, if any, boundary enforcement. Again, because parenting requires round-the-clock diligence and an ability to stay engaged in the issues impacting our children, “too tuned out to notice” parents often fail to see what’s going on around them. These parents are the most likely to extend too much benefit-of-the-doubt to their kids and say things like, “Kids will be kids,” or, “What I don’t know won’t hurt me.” Unfortunately, it may hurt the child.
4. “Living through My Kid to Feel Better about Myself” Parents.
Oh boy, if you haven’t seen these parents in action, head to the nearest ball field/cheer gym/booster club meeting for a sighting. The root of this type of parenting is usually low self-esteem and a need to please/impress others. “Look at my child! He/she is popular/athletic/smart/ attractive” you-fill-in-the-blank; and therefore, that makes the parent feel important. Another end result of this type of parenting is an unhealthy concentration on “image maintenance.” These are typically the parents who make sure their child looks good and performs well at all times since they typically see their children as reflections of themselves unless, of course, the children fail and then we have a problem. If children succeed, parents feel like they succeed. And if children fail, parents take it personally and blame the child/coach/teacher or whoever is nearby to point blame. Therefore, failure is not an option.
So, there you have it—four styles of parenting that can lead to our daughters growing up too fast. Truth be told, many of us (myself included) may lapse into one or more of the parenting styles above from time to time. Only by looking to God for strength and wisdom when it comes to parenting our children will we find the proper balance needed.
Taken with permission from 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter by Vicki Courtney.