Are you a strict parent or a lenient one?

Esther - posted on 09/01/2009 ( 13 moms have responded )




I always thought I would be a very strict parent because I am a firm believer in discipline. However, now that I really am a parent, I find myself wondering if I'm actually too lenient. This doubt is mostly brought on by comments my mom makes btw.

My son is 20 months old and I'm slowly starting to implement a mild version of time-outs but that's only very recent. Until now, my parenting was mostly about distraction, redirection & disaster avoidance. When I say no, I do mean it and I won't change my mind, but I guess I don't say "no" as much as maybe I thought I would (or as my mom thinks I should).

For example, we have a water table on our balcony that Lucas LOVES to play with. Normally we'll put him in swim trunks before we let him have at it, but the other day he was wearing his normal (brand new) clothes when he went out there and started splashing around with the water table. He splashed me too so I splashed him back and within a minute we were both soaking wet and laughing hysterically. He then ran into the house dripping. Stuff like that just doesn't bother me. It's water, we can dry him off. It's not like it's the only outfit he has (*blushes*).

We also let him sit & stand on the coffee table. We don't really ever use it to put down glasses and there is nothing else on there either. Initially we just thought it was cool that he had figured out how to climb on there and again, it just wasn't something that bothered us. It's low to the ground so there is no danger (there is also a foam play mat around it) and he can't do any damage. When we do put something on there, he usually stays away from it.

Another example that got my mom going is that we let him feed himself and have for a long time (probably since he decided he was ready at around 10-11 months). Clearly this can (and often does) create a huge mess. Once again not something we are personally bothered by. We have hardwood floors and you just wipe up the mess & wash his clothes (we now have special food clothes since he hates bibs and won't keep them on). This is him eating his chili for example:

When I shared these pictures with my mom her response was: "wow, you'll just let him do ANYTHING won't you?".

Clearly I have mommy issues (I have an awesome mom btw - her opinion just matters to me a lot), but really, where do you draw the line? Am I being too lenient? Should I be stricter? What is your parenting philosophy when it comes to discipline & boundaries?

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ME - posted on 09/04/2009




My son always seems to be doing things that are incredibly dangerous. I have to be strict to keep him safe. He's had to be in time outs since he was about 14 months old. He would climb the stairs, climb up onto dining room chairs, climb onto the coffee table, and then...fall, as soon as he starts climbing he's in time out. He gets to feed himself much more now that he's approaching 19 months then he did 2 or 3 months ago. He was really uncoordinated, and tho we let him try a couple times...he couldn't do more than finger foods on his own. He's getting really good at it now! My hubby is far less strict than I am, sometimes I feel like I have to parent him too in order to keep Miles safe...

?? - posted on 09/03/2009




I can see myself giving in more than I should too. I think my son will be very well behaved though - he already is at only 10 months. But, I can't say for sure what will happen. I know that I will do my best though to make sure that he is taught manners, respect, yes please and no thank you. I won't let him get away with EVERYTHING, but I am a very relaxed mom... very laid back and calm about things that some people are much more uptight about. I don't mind a mess and I think that learning to clean up is just as important as making the mess. So we'll see what happens!!!

Krista - posted on 09/03/2009




My son's only 9 months, so I can only guess at what kind of disciplinarian I'll turn out to be. I'd like to think that I'll be strict, without taking all of the fun out of everything. Right now we're just working on teaching him what he can and can't touch in the house, and REALLY working on not pulling the poor dog's hair out in giant gobs!

Amie, I think you've got the right idea, and if I manage to parent the way that you've described, I'll be quite pleased with myself!

Lindsay - posted on 09/03/2009




There are things that I am very strict on and many not so much. I pick my battles. Our major one is treating people with respect and using good manners. I'm strict on safety things like not going outside without and adult and we must be holding hands in parking lots and crossing the road. I'm strict on eating what I fix for meals or not eating at all. And I'm fairly strict (still working on it) that all toys are cleaned up before we take baths at night. As far as play, they are free to most anything in the house. My dishes are pulled out a lot and kitched chairs are often found all over the house. They play in the dirt and get filthy. I let them choose their own clothes most days. We have our rules in place and follow through but we also have a lot of fun! They won't let me play with them forever so, for now, I'll take what I can get! =)

Dana - posted on 09/01/2009




I'm pretty lenient I suppose. My son is only 13 months so there isn't alot to be strict about. I watched an episode of the Super Nanny and she had said that time outs should only start after the age of 2, any sooner and they don't fully understand or have a true sense of time passed.

The playing in the water table (what is it btw?) I think is fine. I think people sometimes forget that they're kids, he's only 20 months. Can you really expect him to stop and think about it. Wait a minute I don't have my swim trunks on, I better not do that!?! I'm sure all he's thinking is "Heck ya, fun time." I think it's WONDERFUL that you got right down in the middle of the fun and got wet too. It makes me think that you are a great mom!

The coffee table, well, I might have a problem with my son standing on it. Sitting on it no.

I let Ethan feed himself when possible it helps with fine motor skills. I'm all for the advancement of the mind!

Sharon - posted on 09/01/2009




I honestly don't think I'm strict. I have don't have unreasonable rules. My rules are in keeping with most of their bestfriends.

If you break a rule there is a consequence. I stick to that. Does that make me strict? I dunno. In comparison to my husband I'm definitely the strict one. According to my mom I'm to lenient, lol.

Hahaha standing on the coffee table would be a no-no around here but really the other stuff - is just having fun & encouraging independence.

Amie - posted on 09/01/2009




Well seems like I'm the no fun mom! LOL!
We are strict parents but our kids don't suffer for it. The examples you've given Esther... well kids gotta learn to eat somehow? I don't understand why people don't like seeing a kid get all messy. I do admit I fed them myself up until around 18 months because I did not want to clean up the mess. Finger foods though they had at it and loved it.
They are not allowed to climb on tables,counters, etc.... They have their purpose and our kids know it.
The water one would irritate me though, they only have 6-7 bathing suits each. :| They can wait the minute to go change. Plus it leads to other inappropriate things. My mom let my kids do that in her house, then they came home and thought they could do it here. So I spent an hour cleaning up a soaked bathroom. Not cool.. my mom no longer does this. =)
They have earlier bed times than the majority of kids on the block. In fact I think there's only one other family whose little ones go down as early as ours. It's not even like it's that early either. It's 8 o'clock but you still see some little boogers running around like madmen out there.
They have to eat what is given to them, I refuse to make 3 different meals. Ryan is willing to but I'm not. So until he starts making supper every day their SOL. =)
My kids have fun, they make messes but it's in a controlled environment. I've had enough of cleaning up paint, glue, crayons, craft supplies, etc. They either do there activities nicely or they won't do them at all.
They know their manners but they are kids and sometimes forget. I'm not going to freak out over it but I do remind them every time. I actually had a lady at the grocery store who was surprised and commented on it. When our son was 2 and a half we had gone grocery shopping. She asked me in the check out if they could have a lollipop, they had behaved so I said yes. Both of them (I was pregnant with Caitlin then) said thank you without me saying anything to them. The lady said wow... I've never seen anyone so young say that without being reminded. =) I was proud of my little boogers.

My kids will even come home and fess up if they've done something wrong. But the main reason for this is because of our rules. We won't get mad, they won't have a harsh discipline but we will be disappointed and they will have a say in their discipline if they tell us first. If we find out on our own it's not a good thing. Which has led to our daughter in the past being grounded for 2 weeks and losing all her extra privileges(dance,computer, friends, t.v.,etc).

I do my very best for my kids and while I am strict I am for a reason. I want my kids to have the very very best in their lives. I don't think either that parents who are lenient don't want the same thing either, we're just shooting for the same goal in different ways.

Kylie - posted on 09/01/2009




really great pictures .. your son is so gorgeous!
I'm a lenient parent. I let my kids be kids ..i think mess is all a part of kids having fun and learning. My daughter fed herself from 7/8 months (I've got lots of photos like those ones of your son Esther)..i used to let her stand /sit on the kitchen bench while i was in the kitchen (now shes too big and she uses a saftey step). If my daughter wants to paint her legs with poster paints i let her. If she wants to pretend cook in the kitchen and gets a few things out of the pantry to use as cooking ingredients, i let her. I let her make her own breakfast and pour her own drinks and don't freak out if she spills some. she can jump on her bed and the couches, but not my bed. I even let her use my good water colour paints and brushes when i have them out. I do feel like my days are spent cleaning up after my kids most the time, but i prefer that to nagging and trying to control everything. I also rather praise good behavior and ignore the bad. I'm only strict about manners/respect for others and her things and saftey (wearing hats/helmets, holding hands to cross the road etc etc) i think definitely as your son gets older you pick your battles..some things are worth being strict about ..other things you can let slide.

Sarah - posted on 09/01/2009




I'm pretty lenient. The things you mentioned Esther really wouldn't bother me at all! Especially the eating thing.....i think it's important for them to learn to be independent that way.

I really think you have to learn to pick your battles, there's some 'rules' that tend to go by the wayside sometimes, and others i stick to religiously (although i'll admit on a stressful day, even those slip very occasionally!)
Kids get into trouble and messes and's what they DO! They learn from it!
I think they need some little freedoms.

I think so long as kids obey the major rules (ie, not hitting swearing, being respectful etc etc) then that's the main thing. Are my kids naughty?? Yes! Sometimes! The majority of the time tho, they are very good. I'm pleased that i have (HOPEFULLY) struck a balance where they get to be kids......but they respect the rules too.

Hope that makes some sense! :)

Jocelyn - posted on 09/01/2009




i think i am fairly lenient, my son is pretty well behaved tho (for a 2.5 yr old lol). my hubby will freak if conner sits on the coffee table, but i let him (i sit on the table too), he's been feeding himself for ages, i let him run around the house and dump out all his blocks, he watches a bit of tv, things like that. when we're at a restaurant, if he gets antsy i'll let him play with a glass full of ice and a spoon, and again hubby is horrified lol. but hey, i will pick my battles thank you! of course i'm pretty strict about him hitting ppl and things like that. being really strict just seems like a lot of energy (which i don't really have lol)

Sara - posted on 09/01/2009




Well, I think that the examples you've highlighted aren't things that you really need to be strict about, IMO. I mean, as long as there are boundaries and Lucas knows that when you say no, you mean it, I see absolutely nothing wrong with what you are doing. The eating thing, for example, is completely acceptable. You don't want to raise an uptight kid and letting him feed himself, and subsequently make a mess, is what children are supposed to do. You want dinner time to be FUN, you can't worry about keeping a toddler clean 24/7 or you're going to live a very stressful and unhappy life!

I'm in the same boat as you...I thought I would be stict, but I'm not really. Granted, we have a bedtime, we have a routine, I don't give her juice or sippy cups, but I try not to use "No" too much, and I just keep Ro out of areas where there's potential disaster. For me, I just want her to know that there are boundaries, that mommy and daddy are the boss and to know how she is expected to behave in given situations....I'm just trying to figure it all out as I go, and I think that's what we're all just trying to do. It's easy for people from the outside to criticize what you're doing, but I think it's different when you're living it everyday. You just have to do what you think is best and go with sound like you're doing a great job to me!

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