One Size Fits All Parenting

We have three kids and we parented them all the same way and guess what, they are all turning out different AND that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. While I think it’s important to have an overall and intentional parenting strategy I do believe that one size fits all parenting may not work the way we want it to.

Why One Size Does Not Fit All

Mary and I didn’t try three different parenting “strategies” on our three children. We parented them all with the same philosophy, thoughts and ideas. We had a core set of values that guided our decisions when it came to our kids. When our kids were younger we thought if they broke a rule or value they should all have the same consequence. Guess what, that didn’t work.

Two of our children did not like being sent to the their room as a consequence when they got into trouble, however, one did. In fact, this child would get into trouble so they could be sent to their room more often. Why? Because they wanted to read books! Probably time to change the consequence for one of them.

I wonder if Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:22 has some transferability for us as parents? He says, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”  Perhaps our parenting strategy should change from child to child when needed since each child is different, unique with their own personality, temperament, and ability.

Drawing The Line

Have you ever drawn a line in the sand with your kids? You know, that line of demarcation that says if you cross or pass this line there will be immediate consequences? Now, when you have drawn that line with your kids do they all respond to the line the same way? For example, we have some friends who have three kids. When they would draw a line in the sand with their children they would get three different responses.

Rebel Response
First Child: “Thank you for drawing the line mom and dad. Now that I know exactly where the line is I can step over it!”

Risk Taker Response
Second Child: “Thank you for drawing the line mom and dad. Now that I know exactly where the line is I can try and get as close as I possibly can to it without going over.”

Rule Follower Response
Third Child: “Thank you for drawing the line mom and dad. Now that I know where the line is I can stay as far away from it as possible.”

I believe we should be intentional about the overall parenting of our children by having the same vision and values for them. For example, If you have a value to “Be Polite and Respectful to Others” that value applies to everyone in the family, not just one or two kids. It’s a value that everyone in the family honors.

How kids respond to rules or even values will differ from child to child, just like the responses from the three kids above. You may get The Rebel Response, The Risk Taker Response or, The Rule Follower Response. These responses have more to do with their personality and temperament than our parenting.

When it comes to things like how we encourage our kids, how our children learn or even how they respond to consequences is not a one size fits all approach. Since each of our children are different perhaps we should individualize our encouragement and our consequences to fit their individual personality and temperament. If not, then we may have three kids sent to their room as a consequence and one of them really enjoying it.

Photo Credit: Image ID:56028565 c Pavel L Photo and Video & Image ID:56065888 c Duplass