Are you a "hard" or "soft" parent?

September 28 | offbeatbride
@offbeathome runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
Laura and Agnes
What kind of parent are you? Photo by Laura Varney.
Ariel's post on Offbeat Empire about being a hard boss got me thinking: could the same principles be applied to parenting? I've always hoped I'd be the kind of parent who is strict in certain ways about manners and trying your best at school and in your hobbies, but I know I'll be very permissive in other areas, encouraging creativity and freedom in certain ways that mainstream society might look down on. For example, can my son wear a stormtrooper costume to the grocery store? Hell, yeah! Can he climb all over stuff when we get there? No freakin' way!

Are you a "hard" parent? Have you been strict in ways you didn't expect? How have you found that sweet point? — Amy
  1. I am very much the hard parent. I give the punishments, make the rules and enforces them, and require the most out my daughter. My poor FH is more so the parent that she runs to. I love being the hard parent! So far my daughter hasn't had a problem with it. We will see when she hits those pre-teens lol.

  2. My daughter is four, and I'm "hard" on two things: respect and bedtime. Her language, posture/attitude and tone must reflect respect for those around her, be they older family members, kids at school or me. (I used to nanny for a child who would holler at his mother and I thought, "Okay, NOT EVER.") And bedtimes? Well, the kid needs sleep and Mama needs her House and Bones fix.

    As for the rest of it? Soft. Want to wear two different shoes? Fine. Want to spend the entire afternoon coloring the tree in our front yard with chalk? Sure, pass me the blue.

    In the future I will STRONGLY SUGGEST that she play a musical instrument in school, but that's about it. We keep it pretty mellow around here.

    17 agree
  3. That's a hard one for me to gauge.
    I've been told that I am strict but I feel like my kids have more choices than many of there mates.
    We are a blended family and my boys are only 7months apart.
    Our oldest is with us full time. He's polite, kind hearted, independent and thoughtful.
    Our youngest is with his birth mother and her family full time. We get visits a few times a year. He has a hard time remembering his manners and politeness. He can't do many things on his own and is rude to people, especially people he doesn't know or who are in the service industry.
    I see myself as more strict with my youngest because he needs more reminders. But if you give these reminders to kids when they are younger it is usually a better behavioral environment for them when they get older, i.e. my youngest needs very little reminders about manners and such.
    So I guess I'm both. Go figure! Gemini mother is both strict and bendy.

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  4. My little one's only 11 months, so it's not such a huge issue yet. I'm really strict on things that involve her safety (climbing on things, picking up cords, things like that), but usually I just let her do what she wants. She's a really well-behaved girl by nature, so most of the time she stays out of trouble. I'm sure that will change in the future though. ^_^

  5. My son is only 20 months old right now, so I haven't really had too many opportunities to flex my parenting muscle. :) I do have some general ideas of how I would like to parent him as he gets older and needs more boundaries. School is important, avoid drugs until you're old enough to know what's what, sex should not be engaged in casually… That's about it. Respect is also a huge thing for me, like being polite to everyone around you, regardless of who they are. Other than that, I'm pretty relaxed. I want him to be happy just being himself, so I try not to force him to do anything even now. Granted, if he's trying to do something dangerous there is no flexibility. People have complimented me because regardless of how he reacts I make sure he stops. (This has involved some serious tantrums, because for some reason he is very hard headed and has a one track mind already!) I'm looking forward to his older years, but dreading them all the same.

    I'm sort of modeling my parenting style after my own mother, who kicks some serious ass. She was really cool about pretty much everything I wanted to do. (I refused to wear anything labeled 'girl' clothing up until I was 15, almost 16.) My hobbies changed a lot, but once I started something she insisted I stick with it until the end, which pissed me off when I was a kid, but now I really appreciate it. It taught me that you can make the best of any situation. The only things she was particular about were school, no drugs or alcohol as a teen, /try/ not to have sex but if you do freaking tell me so I can make sure you're not catching an STD or getting preggo. Those were her major things. She also wanted to know where I was going, who with, etc. I realize now it was just so I would be safe, but damn was it annoying.

    1 agrees
    • "She also wanted to know where I was going, who with, etc."

      My parents did this too. I think the thing that made it stick though was that it wasn't "this is something children are required to do," it was made clear that "this is what people do when they live together." Mom and Dad wrote down where they were going and with whom when they went out, separately or together. We were taught it was just something that you do so that IF something happens, to the people at home or the people who went out, we have someplace to start looking for you. Fortunately, it sunk in, and as I was learning it I knew WHY so that when my future roommate got mad because I was "keeping tabs on her," I had the words to explain that I wasn't trying to be controlling, just making sure we were both safe. It really diffused the situation.

      6 agree
  6. I am not a parent yet, but I work in pre-school for children from 3-5 years old and have learned quite a few tricks. A child need stabile consequences; they will only get frustrated and confused if they have to eat up everything on the plate one day, but not the other day (Enter: the Tantrum). They also need to feel like they have acchived something. If they are old enough to hold a toy, they are old enough to put their shoes where they belong, put their dinner plates on the table etc. And always always always Use Your Words. It is NOT cute when a 5 year old talk like a 2 year old because it has learned that it gets the child out of trouble with its "cuteness". Yes, I am strict, but I have learned that it creates safe and relaxed kids if they know what you expect of them and they know what to expect of you.

    6 agree
  7. I am the tough cool mom, well at least my brother's friends say I am. I am very tough in regards to respect, responsibilities, and health/safety. One must give their all, all the time. But I am soft because there are a lot things I could care less about. Clothing, wear what you want as long as it is weather appropriate (which means a lot of pants under summer dresses). Hair, sure I will put pink hair spray on my 3 yr old because she asked. Temp tattoos, ALL THE FREAKIN TIME, why because they like them. And my 3 yr old goes to a church school lol.

    But when mom or dad say no. That's it. We will explain why but that is it. They know where they stand with us and by being hard in some areas now I believe it will pay off down the line. We actually see that in my brother who is 18.

    1 agrees
  8. I'm a hard on some things/soft on others kinda mom. Like many previous posters, I will let my daughter wear what she likes, as long as it's not overly sexual for her age. I will let her listen to the music she likes and I will support her friendships with whomever unless and until I see those friendships becoming detrimental to her health and safety.

    I insist that she be respectful of others, and that she be obedient to her parents. I explain that this obedience requirement is because she's still a kid, and that as she grows, she will be given more and more leeway to make her own decisions according to her increasing levels of maturity.

    I am 100% adamant that she understand that every action has a consequence, and that one must take responsibility for both actions and consequences. I insist that she finish what she starts and I insist that she give her best efforts to whatever she attempts.

    Like others have said, when her Dad or I say no, that's it. We're happy to explain our reasoning, but our decision remains final.

    The result has, so far, been very positive. We'll see how well it works during the upcoming teenage years, but I'm optimistic. I hope that by treating her as a rational being with a mind and desires of her own, she will respect that even when she dislikes my decisions, they always come from a place of love and concern for her.

    1 agrees

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