A single guy’s thoughts on parenting




 

 

Parenting terms. They seem to be all the buzz in the news and on social media today. You’ve probably read articles or blog posts detailing the latest trends: Why x parenting style is superior to y parenting style, nature vs. nurture etc.

Few topics generate more passion and controversy than parenting—or more specifically—arguments about the ideal way to raise children. Out of the coalescence of bestselling books, viral blogger opinions and professional research, a long list of parenting terms has emerged: Helicopter parents, free-range parents, Tiger moms…to name a few.

As a single guy with no children, I’m the last one qualified to dole out any parenting advice or give a lengthy critique. But this column isn’t about that; it’s just my observations and musings as a possible future parent.

Here’s my thoughts on a few popular parenting terms/trends:

Helicopter Parents:

This term refers to parents who tend to “hover” over many aspects of their children’s lives, including education, playtime and interaction with other kids. While helicopter parents have a strong desire to protect their children and help them succeed, it seems that their methods can sometimes be overprotective. I think children need guidance, but they also need enough space to grow and solve problems on their own.

Free-Range Parents:

On the other end of the spectrum is free-range parenting. Free-range parents allow their young children to walk to school or the playground alone, or even ride public mass transportation by themselves. Critics say that the practice is neglectful and puts children at risk, but free-range parents insist that it’s the best way to promote selfreliance and independence among kids.

Perhaps our society has become too cautious when it comes to letting younger children go places unsupervised. Then again, I don’t think I would allow my seven-year-old to visit the playground by himself/herself (especially in light of child supervision laws).

Tiger Parents: Tiger parenting is an authoritative style that pushes kids to pursue academic and/or athletic achievement. In other words, it’s a tough love system aimed at tapping into a child’s maximum potential, where discipline is often valued over emotional support.

I’m all for prompting children to pursue what they’re good at, but only as long as their hearts are in it. My gut feeling is that discipline should be accompanied by encouragement, as well as sensitivity to a child’s desires.

In conclusion, I suppose that good parenting is all about establishing balance. That is, giving children guidance without smothering them; keeping their safety in mind but letting them gradually gain more independence; and encouraging them to reach their potential without coming off as a dictator.

Wow, that sounds complicated. But from what I’ve been told, parenting is always a work in progress. There might not be any perfect parents or ideal trends out there, but that shouldn’t keep anyone from trying to raise kids. Or, like me, from thinking about the future.

Ben Gagnon is a reporter for View Newspaper Group. You can contact him at 810-452-2661 or bgagnon@mihomepaper.com.


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