Home Life by Bev and Phil Haas
God created each of us uniquely, so the fact that the two of you approach parenting differently is no surprise. Family educators often identify two essentials in parenting: support and control. Research has documented the importance of both components in good parenting. In the Bible God is portrayed as a parent who provides the perfect blend of support and control. Control has to do with directing your child to behave in an appropriate manner. Support is about giving your child acceptance and love. Depending upon how these two ingredients are mixed, they form four different styles of parenting. As you look at each style, see if you can determine which style you adhere to and which one is most like your husband.
Controlling Parents: More Control and Less Support
More control and less support lead to authoritarian parenting. The controlling parent believes a child’s greatest need is for discipline and self-control. Typically this approach involves controlling the child’s behavior in every area of life. Children from authoritarian homes are not encouraged to think for themselves; instead, they must look to their controlling parent for everything. This style requires less investment of time and energy on the part of the parent. A partial bonding between parents and children takes place in these more controlling homes. Josh McDowell has often warned that rules without a relationship lead to rebellion.
Supportive Parents: More Support and Less Control
When support is high and control is low you have permissive parenting. This approach accentuates a child’s need for warmth and security. Permissive parents think that love is all that is needed for a child and so they set few limits. The Bible highlights God’s love for us. However, the Bible also lays down God’s limits. The irony is that this parenting style is often viewed as the most favorable model. In reality, permissive parents are not preparing their kids for the real world that awaits them once they leave the comforts of home.
Neglectful Parents: Neither Support nor Control
If neither support nor control is evident you end up with neglectful parenting. The shortcomings are obvious. Where there is neither support nor control, children feel devalued and are left to make their own way in the world. At one time we thought this approach should never be used. Then we noticed that there were rare times when God seemed to pull back his support and control. In Romans chapter one the phrase “God gave them over” appears three times (see verses 24, 26, and 28). In these verses the people chose repeatedly to defy God. Finally God pulled back and allowed them to do whatever their hearts desired. In extreme circumstances, we too might resort to this style.
Balanced Parents: Both Support and Control
The style we like to call balanced parenting combines the best of both the authoritarian and permissive styles. Balanced parents are attentive to the needs of their child, and they set clear limits for behavior. Balanced parents encourage verbal give-and-take, but they also take control when necessary and expect their children to respect and obey their limits. Balanced parents base decisions on the needs of their children and on their values, not merely what their children want at the time. It has been well documented in research that the most competent children are from homes where the parents routinely practice this balanced approach. Children seem to thrive in an environment where there is a balance of what we like to call love (support) and limits (control).
As imperfect parents we all tend to lean toward one particular style. In our parenting we realized that Bev leaned more toward the authoritarian style and Phil was more permissive. We eventually realized that we were mechanically following in the footsteps of our own parents. So we made a conscious decision to strive for balance rather than struggle with our differences. If the two of you will work on providing love and limits, we believe your differences will begin to fade and your children will flourish.
Send your questions about family life to Phil and Bev Haas in care of The Lookout, 8805 Governor’s Hill Drive, Suite 400, Cincinnati, OH 45249,mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.We regret that personal replies are not always possible. Phil and Bev Haas are involved in education and family ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are the parents of two children, and they have one grandson.