Home > Brian's Blogs, Parenting > Parenting Teenagers, Part 6

Parenting Teenagers, Part 6

In my last post, I made the claim that current psychological research confirms that parents should parent with a balance of love and discipline because this reflects the character of God. With “props” to Dr. Bob Lehman of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary who taught me all of this, here is what the research says:

To make it as simple and straightforward as possible, there are two aspects to parenting: nurture (love) and expectations (discipline). Parents can provide high or low amounts of nurture and high or low amounts of discipline. A parent’s “parenting style” has a tremendous impact on how they influence their children. The four options are below

  • Low Nurture, Low Discipline. This is “No Rules and No Relationship” parenting.
    • In its worst form, this is emotional and physical neglect.
    • By the way, every parent should read Chap Clark’s Hurt. His research indicates that many parents and children are so busy today that they rarely have time for one another. This, he concludes, has the same impact on children as outright neglect.
  • Low Nurture, High Discipline. This is “Rules without Relationship” parenting.
    • In this parenting style, discipline is provided but it is provided in a manner that exacerbates the children (Eph. 6:4). That is, there is correction, but no encouragement; discipline, but no teaching; harsh words, but no affection.
    • This type of parenting sets so many boundaries that children do not have the opportunity to make their own choices or suffer natural consequences. In other words, they don’t learn from their life experiences.
    • To oversimplify, this is “I will love you if you obey” or “do it because I said” parenting.
  • High Nurture, Low Discipline. This is “Relationship without Rules” parenting.
    • This parenting style is the opposite of what is described above. That is, there is encouragement, but no correction; teaching, but no discipline; affection, but no harsh words.
    • This type of parenting has no boundaries. Children set the rules while mom and dad pamper and rescue. Children do not learn from their life experiences.
    • To oversimplify, this is “I love you…do whatever you want” parenting.
  • High Nurture, High Discipline. This is “Rules with Relationship” parenting.
    • This parenting style provides a balance of love and discipline. That is, there is encouragement with correction; there is discipline with teaching; there is affection with appropriately strong words.
    • This type of parenting has clearly explained boundaries and empowers children to live within the boundaries. In fact, there may be dialogue/give-and-take between parents and children to set the boundaries! Mistakes and natural consequences are allowed and children learn from life experiences.

As these parenting styles are described briefly, you will see that providing high nurture and high discipline best reflects the character of God.  But what are the results of this type of parenting?

The research looked at the impact of parenting styles on a child’s self-worth, academics, conformity to authority, resistance to peer pressure, care for others, and, most importantly, adoption of the parent’s religious beliefs. Here are the results:

  • The two low nurture parenting styles scored the lowest in every category.
  • The high nurture and low discipline style scored #2 in every category.
  • The high nurture and high discipline style scored #1 in every category. In other words, parents that provide high nurture and high discipline create children who have the highest self-worth, the best academics, the best conformity to authority, the highest resistance to peer pressure, the most care for others, and the greatest likelihood of adopting the religious beliefs of their parents.

So what is the summary of all this? The most effective way to create a biblically wise adult is to parent with the appropriate balance of love and discipline. However, if you have to error to one side (which you don’t!), then error to the side of high nurture and low discipline.

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  1. April 2, 2008 at 2:54 pm

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