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Sweeney: Lack of communication means destructive parenting

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As I watch a lot of my friends start to have kids, I wonder about how they will teach and help their children understand the world around them.

Katlin Sweeney

Katlin Sweeney

It’s the age-old question that our parents asked themselves and what some of us are already worrying about too: Am I raising my kids correctly? This simple fear fuels many of the choices that a lot of parents make, including how they decided to introduce transitional experiences to their children.

For some parents, just even talking about their child dating, staying out late, or trying out various substances makes them uncomfortable. So when it boils down to actually allowing us to have more time spent unsupervised out of the house, parents have a tough decision to make.

Everybody knows at least two people from the polar-opposite outcomes of these decisions: one that is overprotected and one that is given complete freedom. While most kids fall somewhere in the middle, those that are on the extreme sides of the spectrum tend to harbor complete disparities in behavior. This presents the question as to which method is actually plausible.

Now there is never going to be a one-fits-all type of answer for how parents should raise their kids. You always have to factor in extra characteristics of the family’s situation like race, class, gender, socioeconomic status, parental age, living circumstance, etc. But when you think about lifestyle logically, you realize that there are a few crucial mistakes made by some parents that we should try to avoid.

For example, the overprotective parents prevent their offspring from trying a lot before they move out or go to college. They may stop their child from dating, staying out late, or going out at night for fear of them getting into trouble. But the issue with this comes that, while yes, the child stays out of trouble, they don’t have ample time to experience any of life’s harsh realities before they leave the house and are left to their own vices.

They also choose not to discuss much of the subjects that make them uncomfortable and assume that kids will just know right from wrong without much guidance. They place all stock into the idea that sheltering kids will not make them curious on what they have missed out on.

On the other hand, parents that bestow complete, unfiltered freedom on their kids are looking at the possibility of their child getting into trouble much earlier on. Traits like disrespect, disobedience, and disregard for the rules could be outcomes of the parents telling their kids to do whatever they please. In this case, some parents still choose not to discuss uncomfortable issues with their kids and the information is learned from friends. This could also result in kids being more consumed by their social life than on things like academics, which could turn around to hurt them in the long run.

Promoting isolation from all social activity is just as unhealthy as giving a kid no perimeters under which they must behave. While there are always exceptions to these rules, parents have to keep in mind that too severe of any parenting style can result in a lot of problems.

As many of us are starting to get into serious relationships, settling down, and having kids, it’s important to keep this concept in mind. Open communication, while sometimes uncomfortable, may be the biggest difference. You don’t necessarily have to tell your children that they can do whatever they want, but answering questions about the subjects you are more nervous they would explore on their own is key.

While there are good and bad aspects to sheltering and giving complete freedom to children, being open with your kids might be the quality that makes your relationship stronger.

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