What Is Pendulum Parenting?

How are we supposed to parent? Is there an easier, more convenient way? Is there even a right way? When we consider how different we all are as people, how our children are still learning and uncovering who they are, can we really tick a box and say we parent this way or that?

Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind established in the 1960s a number of parenting styles that all parents seemed to fall under. Authoritarian - the strict parent. Permissive – the best friend parent.  Authoritative – the best balance of the lot.

Baumrind’s ideas seem to have easily allocated the most distinctive traits of parenting. Over the years more research has been conducted and more parenting styles have erupted from the theories.

Foundation of Parenting

When it comes to parenting styles, we rarely fit into one box. We can pick and choose from certain ideas and pluck aspects of how to parent from them. We now have the neglectful parent, the helicopter parent, a dolphin, elephant and tiger, a free-range parent and I do believe there’s a velociraptor in there somewhere! It's easy to get caught up in trying to place ourselves somewhere in all of these styles when in reality, we will have our own flair for parenting.

The three parenting styles surmised by Baumrind are the core principles and should be classed primarily as a foundation for parenting; A starting point for how we may or may not find ourselves rearing our kids.

The Pendulum Parenting

With so many different ideas, it’s important to recognise that we are all individuals, as are our children. How we parent will come down to instinct, core values, and more often than not, the situation at hand. Many of us do not relate to one style but rather swing from one type of parenting to another. We are the pendulum parents who know how to care and love our children in a manner they need. We may be an authoritative parent in the morning, and authoritarian in the evening. Or be a helicopter in the playground until our little ones find their feet, and a dolphin parent when a game of tickle monster is on the cards.

Regardless of how you feel you should parent, and how you actually parent, recognise that we are allowed to swing on the pendulum and flow from one style to the other.

There is just one problem with pendulum parenting: a lack of consistency if we don’t follow up on those stricter rules we may have laid down previously. With all parenting styles, there are complications. Remember, when it comes to pendulum parenting try to swing with some sort of consistency!

Geraldine Walsh

Mum of two Geraldine Walsh happily works from home as a freelance writer chatting about parenting, wellness and mental health.

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