As parents we all want our children to obey us, be respectful, stop whining, and stay out of trouble. But below the surface, there are three different motivations for parenting decisions. These motives lead to three different levels of parenting.
1) Parent-Centered Parenting
The goal of parent-centered parenting is the comfort and convenience of the parent. Parent-centered parents want their children to behave and stay out of trouble, so their children’s behavior doesn’t get in the way of their own interests and reputation.
2) Child-Centered Parenting
The goal of child-centered parenting is the comfort and success of the child. Child-centered parents want their child to do well in school, sports, the arts and stay out of trouble so the child will have a good life.
Child-centered parenting may look like parent-centered parenting at times because child-centered parents also want their children to stay out of trouble, but their motivation is different. Their primary motive is what’s in their children’s best interest rather than self-interest. When their interests conflict with what’s in their children’s best interest, child-centered parents will often sacrifice their own comfort and convenience for the success of their children
3) Others-Centered Parenting
The goal of others-centered parenting is to develop children into a people who makes the world a better place. Others-centered parents develop values in their children like honesty, service, and perseverance.
Others-centered parenting may look like parent-centered parenting at times because others-centered parents also wants their child to stay out of trouble, but again the motive is different – it’s for the impact their behavior has on others rather than its impact on the parent or child.
Others-centered parenting may also look like child-centered parenting at times because others-centered parents want their children to be successful, but once again the motive is different. They want their children to be successful in ways that benefit those around them. Others-centered parents are not only willing to sacrifice their own comfort and convenience but also their children’s comfort and convenience for the sake of others.
What kind of parent do you want to be?
While it’s not always easy in the short term, I contend that long term others-centered parenting will not only make the world a better place, but make for a richer, happier life for us and our children.
What motives are driving your parenting these days? What kind of parent do you want to be? Can you give an example where you’ve made sacrificed your own interests and the interests of your children for others?