The best parenting combines authority with love. It gives children boundaries while helping them to feel cared for and nurtured. Sadly, some parents lean heavy on authority and less on love. That approach reduces parenting to a list of demanding rules that is damaging to a child.
My step-dad, Hank, was all authority. His parenting was as simple as “because-I-say-so.” Break one of his rules, and you’d regret it. It was his way of keeping order, but it didn’t sit well with my older sister, Kim.
One day when we kids were outside playing Frisbee, my aim was off, and I smashed a window in the garage door. Hank stormed outside and yelled, “Who broke that window?” Before I could speak up, Kim – who had finally had enough of Hank – shouted, “I did! What’re you going to do about it?”
What took place next was like something out of a Three Stooges movie. Hank chased Kim around the backyard, then they cursed back and forth until Kim took off down the street. I didn’t see her again for a year. She literally ran away from home in that moment.
Situations like that are more likely to develop when parents are heavy-handed. How much better it is to discipline children with love, understanding, and respect! Had my childhood home better balanced authority and love, my sister’s response in that moment might have been completely different.
Children need love as much as they need good boundaries.
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