4 Solutions to Passive Parenting

Last week I wrote an article called 4 Problems with Passive Parenting. This is my follow up post.

I learned that over different seasons I've allowed my parenting to become passive and while it was necessary in certain seasons, I've realized the pattern has been made more permanent. As a result, it has caused some issues in our home.

You can read more about that here.

In this article, I share how I am moving forward to change that passivity in my parenting methods.

4 Solutions to Passive Parenting

Clear Boundaries

I am laying out some very clear boundaries when it comes to certain aspects of day to day life for myself and my children. These boundaries will offer us all a sense of security because we will know what to expect in certain areas that have been lax before.  Creating boundaries helps with order as well. If a boundary is put in place, but it is not followed, it can cause a cascade effect of a mess. If a child doesn't put away a puzzle they are doing before pulling out a new activity, the puzzle then has the potential for pieces to go missing because it gets pushed aside and dropped on the floor. Allow this to happen multiple times and you have multiple puzzles with missing pieces that are no longer fun to play with and ended up a wasted activity. 

Here's another example: eating. My children need to be seated at the table until they are completely finished eating. Too often they leave their food because they get distracted by something else and either they forget to come back to their food and it goes to waste, or the dog gets to it, which is still a waste. This leads to not only wasted food, but a child who still needs to eat because they are now left hungry. 

Consistent Follow Through

With those boundaries in place, I then need to consistently follow through on making certain they are staying within those boundaries and offering consequences when they don't. 

So if a child loses their food to the dog or to getting cold because they leave the table when my back is turned, they simply lose that food and don't get a replacement until the next meal. 

If a child pulls out a second activity before putting the first away, they should lose both activities, put them both away, and find something else to do. 

Consistently following through will help them remember not to go over the boundaries of where they were told to stay. Plus, it makes them see I mean business. 

Concrete Convictions

Since children need a very clear understanding of conviction, I can't be wishy-washy in addressing unacceptable behavior or choices.

If a child does not obey, ignoring it will not offer them a clear conviction of being obedient. Instead, they learn to only be obedient once mom gets upset. This isn't obedience.

So my solution for this is to not give instructions in passing and to stop what I'm doing to make certain the instructions are followed. This goes from things like chores to attitude adjustments to handling sibling squabbles.

Children need a strong leader to follow, not a wimpy wannabe. They will never have clear convictions without a solid foundation of following through. All of these go hand in hand.

Cooperative Compassion

Being passive about handling sibling squabbles has lead to weak sibling relationships. That is definitely not the goal I am aiming for so I must take steps to ensure my children recognize unacceptable attitudes and behaviors that lead to their fighting.

Often, these fights break out as a result of selfish desires.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
— James 4:1

A child wants something and will risk damaging a relationship to get it. But often, children don't see through this lens. They have tunnel vision and are completely focused only on what they want. (Adults have this tendency, too, by the way).

So, my goal is to be fully present to help enlighten the children involved in these squabbles what the root of the squabble is and how to confess, repent, and receive forgiveness. The Gospel is such a perfect teacher in these matters. 

This requires me to stop what it is I am doing, and go to them. Shouting from another room is not going to create strong relationships or create a cooperative compassion between siblings. They need me to be fully present in that situation for a complete resolution to take place. Or at least definable steps to get there. Some quarrels cannot be solved in just one session of understanding dialogue. 

I want my children to have compassion on each other, not merely focus on what it is they want. 

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
— Philippians 2:4

This whole post could probably be summed up in one word: attentiveness

Children need strong, attentive parents who take intentional steps to lead them. This requires intentional planning and being present in day-to-day.

These are some of the issues we've been facing in our family and how I will take steps to mend the damage.

What can you do to help eradicate a passive approach to parenting you may have picked up?