How Flexible is Too Flexible as a Parent?
Updated: Sep 12
As a parent, it can feel like a constant balancing act to “get things right.” At some point, you may have come to the conclusion that nothing is perfect. You’re going to make mistakes, adjust your plans, and even switch parenting styles from how you started.
One area that can impact your parenting style is being adaptable.
You already know how quickly things can change in your life and your child’s life, no matter how old they are. So it’s important to be flexible. Rigidity isn’t good for anyone. On the other hand, there is something to be said for too much flexibility. When you’re too flexible, you might start to experience the “rubber band effect,” feeling burnt out and stretched to your limit.
What can you do to strike a balance? How flexible is too flexible when it comes to parenting?
Teetering the Line of Positivity
Flexible parenting is a type of positive parenting. One of the biggest benefits is that it allows your children to disagree with you about certain things. When you’re open to that, you’re showing them their opinions matter, you’re showing them that they are valued, and you’re validating what they have to say.
As an adult, you probably understand the importance of that. Everyone wants to be heard and younger kids and teens are no different. Still, while you make an effort to remain positive, don’t lose your sense of control. At the end of the day, you’re still the parent. Having healthy, effective disagreements can be helpful.
Allowing your child to walk all over you or criticize you is too much. Flexibility is about bending, not breaking. You’ll have a good idea of when enough is enough, so don’t let your child’s opinions go beyond what you find acceptable.
Teaching vs. Controlling
Another aspect of being flexible as a parent is giving your child the opportunity to learn things on their own. You can still use certain situations as teachable moments, but leave other times to allow them to explore and discover things without guidance.
In some cases, this is a great approach. It fosters a natural sense of curiosity, leadership, and can even improve problem-solving skills. Essentially, it’s the opposite of being “controlling”.
If you don’t allow your child to do much on their own, you’re not helping them grow into an independent person. Both of these extremes can cause damage to the mental health and well-being of children. Instead, be flexible enough to guide and teach them when it’s necessary while allowing them to learn, experience, and even fail on their own.
Let Go of Extremes
If you’re worried about being too flexible or not flexible enough, the best thing you can do is let go of extremes. Ask yourself if you feel stressed trying to keep up with your current parenting style. Or are you doing something that just doesn’t “fit” with who you are?
If something isn’t working for you, it’s okay to make changes. Doing so makes you an emotionally aware individual and an even better parent. Being adaptable requires experience and a willingness to learn. You have to allow yourself to make some mistakes so you understand how to better balance things.
Even when you strike that balance, you’re undoubtedly going to go back and forth at times. Thankfully, you can take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Keep striving to be flexible in the right ways. It’s possible to show your child that you can be in charge and their biggest supporter at the same time.
It can be a struggle to find the right balance. If you are finding it difficult at the end of the day because you are either stretched too thin or letting go of rigidity in parenting causes increased feelings of anxiety, you might consider that therapy can help you strike a better balance. Please reach out to see how therapy might be able to help. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here.
To learn more about how counseling can help you during your postpartum journey, please click here.
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Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has a private practice in Springfield, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New Jersey via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.