Connected Parenting: New Name for an Old Idea
- Neither Permissive nor Authoritarian
- Present in Time and Space
- Good Investors of Parenting Time
- Parenting Connected Children
- Connected with Themselves
Psychologists and educators have tried for years to identify the best parenting styles, and one of these styles is connected parenting. The concept is not new; successful parents have practiced it for years. It is modeled in old television series like “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Andy Griffith Show.” What is new is the increased pressure of societal demands, recreational and other activities and work expectations that cut our parenting time pie into ever-smaller pieces. Here are five ways to spot connected parenting.
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Neither Permissive nor Authoritarian
Children feel secure with boundaries. That said, boundaries can restrict growth. The key to a connected parenting style is to set healthy and well-planned boundaries that change as children age. Having no boundaries, allowing kids to guide the parenting relationship, can be frightening to them. Children understand when they are out of control and often have not yet developed coping mechanisms, so parents that do not intervene and set limits on activities and behaviors can cause them to become insecure. The mark of a healthy connected parent-child relationship is a balance between the two styles of parenting.
Present in Time and Space
Connected parents do not operate at a distance. Multitasking is a good skill in the workplace but makes for miserable children at home. Children need hands-on attention. A parent who monitors his social media or work conversations on his phone while carrying on a conversation with his child is not truly present. From infancy, children need parents who know them well enough to anticipate their physical and emotional needs and meet them. Infants who do not get this type of parenting may develop bonding and trust issues that can last throughout their lives. Connected parents eliminate distractions when interacting with their children.
Good Investors of Parenting Time
People are busier today than in past times, or at least they think they are. Actually, parents of a century ago had longer and more physical work days. They just spent their “off-time” differently. Instead of evenings in front of a television or glued to a smartphone or computer, they spent time with their families. The world is different today, and parents and their children engage in more activities. Connected parents arrange to spend time with their children helping with homework, listening to them recount their day and getting to know them. The American Psychological Association advises parents to keep the line of communication open. Parents who invest the time to really talk to their children when they are small, create an environment of trust that will allow them to be open with their parents when they are older. Connected parents invest their free time wisely.
Parenting Connected Children
Children who entered an essay contest about “giving back” to their community almost universally cited their parents’ examples as reasons for their involvement with others. Children from homes where parents practice connected parenting can tune into others. They learn to spend time building friendships and developing lifestyles of openness. Even parental squabbles can be part of connected parenting if children watch their parents solve their disagreements in a healthy manner because children learn to interact with peers and other adults in conflict resolution.
Connected with Themselves
Child-parent interaction can be frustrating and exhausting. Sometimes that frustration is caused not by the child’s behavior but by the unresolved issues of the adult. Connected parents take the time to care for themselves. They must be as gentle and understanding of their own mistakes and “growing pains” as they are of their children’s. That means spending time away from the children at times. Date nights or weekend get-aways are healthy ways to nurture the “inner child” and interacting with other parents is an excellent resource.
This is not a new concept in parenting. It is just a new focus on the idea of that linking between child and parent, that engagement that allows both to grow. Connected parenting is easy to spot by looking at the level of contentment of both.