Parenting: A Balancing Act

It’s no secret, parenting isn’t easy.  Children don’t come with instructions manuals, and, even if they did, it seems the manual gets rewritten on a regular basis.  Often times, parents may not even be sure how to conceptualize and then communicate what they are struggling with exactly.  Asked what is going on and they may not be sure.  What is more difficult is the communication between mother and father.  In theory, you and your spouse are supposed to be a dynamic duo, a kind of super team capable of handling anything the little people living in your house can dish out.  However, you may not be anywhere close to being able to talk to your spouse about it.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were some simple tools you as a parent could use to understand and talk about what you are going through?  Well, the good news is those kinds of resources exist.  Here is one, very simple, quite effective way for moms and dads to understand and communicate in regards to the challenges of parenting.

Parenting is a kind of ongoing balancing act between three important functions: Guiding, Nurturing & Controlling.  Using these terms, you can form a kind of working language to accurately define what it is your children are going through and devise an effective response.  The best part is, these tools are dynamic, able to be used in an ongoing way to handle the inevitable changes life brings.  In your family, circumstances do not remain constant.  Your kids get older and so do you.  You encounter new successes, and novel challenges arise.  Let’s start with defining each of these jobs:

Guiding:  Simply put, guiding involves parents directing the course of their child’s life via the position of a trusted adviser.  Throughout life, a your child is faced with many decisions leading to various possible outcomes, some better than others.  You harbor a deep desire to help your children make the very best choices, often based on your own experiences growing-up and the perspective as someone who has been around quite a bit longer than your kids.  You place significant effort into giving direction and explaining why particular choices would be best.

Nurturing:  No diamond, regardless of color or clarity sparkles in the dark.  Your nurturing is like a light, which brings to life all the beauty and quality of your child.  Nurturing is an act of loving your child in such a way that brings out their very best and refines it further, while challenging those aspects in need of change.  Your love sees what is great in your child, acting as a mirror.  Your child will develop their own sense of self and worth via the reflection of their your nurturing.  Again, this reflection should be lovingly accurate.  In other words, you do not simply highlight your child’s strengths while ignoring issues, as this would lead to your child developing a very distorted picture of themselves.  Instead, as the parent, you demonstrate how to love deeply, bringing out the best in your child while refining rough edges.

Controlling:  Probably the most challenging aspect of parenting to navigate is determining the correct level of control to implement in raising your children.  In contrast to guiding, control is the action of directly exercising power over the course of your child’s life.  It is the act of making parental decisions about what will and will not be allowed to occur.  My child will be allowed to view PG movies.  They can go spend the night at a friend’s house.  No phone calls after 9pm.  Control requires authority on your part as parent.  Power is necessarily out of proportion in the parent-child relationship.  You can and should have more than your kid.  Children need to learn to navigate the challenges a power imbalance presents.  After all, they will be doing so the rest of their life either effectively or ineffectively (as in the case of rebellion).

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