Speaking with parents, youth and marriage family counselors, I’ve been engaged by this healthy discussion: Does “old school” or “new school” parenting work best for the proper upbringing of a child?
This discussion often gets even deeper when it begin to penetrate the surface into different cultural and socio-economic environments. Parenting styles quite often drastically differ, depending on the generation. What is considered strict old-school “tough love” would be considered excessive or maybe even abusive to some. What some modern parents call nurturing and bonding may be considered babying.
What is obvious is that our environment has changed, which has inevitably affected the way parents deal with their children.
Here are just a few examples:
Having an opinion vs. talking back: New-school parenting style supports the gesture of “allowing a child to voice his or her opinion.” Old-school parenting says, “you better know when to hold your tongue or you may lose it.” Or “Don’t let your mouth write a check that your behind can’t cash.” I believe in a healthy balance between the two. At least explain the reason for your parenting decision and ask if your children have any questions so that there are no misunderstandings.
Butt whipping vs. time-out: Time-out is what new-school parents use to deal with inappropriate behavior by a child. Old-school parents use butt-whipping – and as one parent put it, “you also got a lecture during that whipping.” As a balanced, responsible parent, it’s good to remember to discipline with love and not anger. Never discipline a child while you are angry. Maybe it’s a good idea for the parent to take a time out before they decide on a butt-whipping.
“Yes sir” vs. “What”: According to this old-school parent, “children respond back to their parent(s) and/or elders by saying ‘what’. In my day, if my dad called one of us and we answered with ‘what,’ we were in for it.” The new-school style has gotten a little soft when it comes to expecting respect from their children. “Yes sir” or “Yes ma’am” when responding to an elder person was mandatory. It’s rare to hear the words sir or ma’am from today’s generation of children.
Allowance vs. incentives: Some old-school parents who have the means provide a regular allowance for the child if they are maintaining their household and school business. My mother’s response to allowance was, “I’m allowing you to live here for free.” Some new-school parents provide incentives for things that children should be doing anyway. Giving money for cleaning their rooms or for having no bad grades sends the wrong message. To instill higher expectations, I believe extra privileges and maybe some money would be appropriate for making the honor roll or earning straight-A’s in school.
Go to your room vs go outside and play: When was the last time you saw a bunch of kids just outside playing? The new-school parents have substituted personal interaction with their child with technology. Cartoon network, the Xbox, smartphones and tablets are the new babysitters. The old-school environment required more physical action, innovation and creativity for kids to have entertainment and recreational activities. As a result, child obesity is now an epidemic.
Whether you prefer old school, new school or a combination, there is no black-and-white clear right or wrong way of parenting. However, it is wise to discerned how we perform the duties of the most critical role on the planet. Please share your thoughts.
Deon D. Price is a youth life skills coach and writer who lives in Fairfield. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him www.twitter.com/youthgeneration.