First, it is important to understand how your parenting approach may be contributing to the problem, especially in a culture that has made discipline a dirty word. To speak of a parent disciplining a child today evokes images of unreasonable anger and brutal beating. That’s not biblical discipline. Two case studies – one sociological and the other biblical – show us what Godly discipline is all about.
Here are some different parenting styles that produced different responses among children:
1. THE PERMISSIVE PARENT
This style represents parents who are HIGH IN LOVE BUT LOW IN DISCIPLINE. These parents are generally fearful, afraid of messing up and damaging their children’s psyche, so they never set firm boundaries. Permissive parents tend to produce children with feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, and inferiority. Although these kids feel loved, they are never sure of their limits and therefore very unsure of themselves.
2. THE NEGLECTFUL PARENT
This style represents parents who are LOW IN LOVE AND LOW IN DISCIPLINE. This is the worst of all because they do not show any kind of care. The parents’ neglect may not necessarily be intentional – they may simply be in the midst of their own traumas and chaos, like an addiction or an abusive situation. They don’t purposely desire to neglect their kids, but they don’t know how to deal with their own issues adequately and don’t have the tools to be healthy parents. Their children tend to grow up with little or no lasting relationship with their parents and develop deep emotional scars.
3. THE AUTHORITARIAN PARENT.
This style represents parents who are LOW IN LOVE AND HIGH IN DISCIPLINE. These parents have high expectations and control. Communication between parent and child involves arguing and fighting, especially when the child is old enough to fight back. This kind of parent is not content just to win the war; they have to win every battle too. The abundance of control can lead to a child developing a strong sense of safety. Authoritarian parents squeeze their kids until the kids can’t wait to leave home, and as soon as they do, they tend to act out because they feel provoked to rebellion.
4. THE AUTHORITATIVE PARENT.
This style represents the best combination for healthy parenting: HIGH IN LOVE AND HIGH IN DISCIPLINE. This kind of parent is compassionate yet firm. They have clear boundaries but also very loving. These kind of parents respect and honor their children without compromising his or her disciplinary needs. The result is a child high in self-esteem and equipped with good coping skills. This kind of parent balances love and discipline, without compromising either, produces well-adjusted kids who maintain a positive relationship with their parents.
All of us want to be in style 4, and probably most of us think we are. But take a moment to consider: If you had to pick a style other than number four to represent your worst moments as a parent, which would it be?