I love to watch movies of what filmmakers thought it was like in the good old days, where pies cooled on the window sills, dinner was always at 5:30, and father ruled with a steady but firm hand from his recliner while reading the evening paper.
Old school parenting.
Except, parenting “old school” wasn’t really like Nick at Night. Old school parenting was a little more like an old army movie. Its characteristics were:
Strict and authoritarian.
Children did not speak unless spoken to.
Rules were rules. If you forgot that, there was a punishment.
Understanding a child was not necessarily encouraged, and
Nothing but mature behavior was accepted from children, who were required to fit into the parent’s world.
Fathers were secondary to the Mother in rearing children, but the father still knew best.
The school of Spock
In 1946, a new school of parenting opened up. “The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care,” written by Dr. Benjamin Spock hit the nation like a soft feather pillow with a hole. It was all over the nation quickly.
Dr. Spock was all about accommodating children’s feelings and catering to their preferences instead of focusing on self-denial/control authority issues. His philosophy completely contradicted then current wisdom of withholding affection from children — turning the “firm hand with a steady grip” into “Look! No hands, ma!”
There were ups and downs to both styles.
The ups to the authoritarian style were its focus on taking responsibilities, discipline and goals. The down side was anything touchy feely. Spock’s version was big on feelings and being in the moment, but down on responsibility and boundaries.
Fortunately, the pendulum has slowed down, and moderation with common sense has taken from both worlds in a new old school parenting style. Fathers have turned into dads, and mothers — well, there was never anything wrong with mother to begin with.
The new old school
Thankfully, everything old is not new again. New old school parenting is what we are after these days. It’s true that modern parents want some “Get her done” attitude with discipline and responsibility. But they also want to use a firm but loving hand.
Kindness is honored, and so are caring authority figures who set boundaries. We want to know how a child is feeling while still insisting he try at least one bite from each item on his plate.
We can pick what we liked from the authoritative side and keep what we thought worked from the permissive side, and then come up with our own brand of excellent parenting, old school.
So, what works?
We want our children to have everything, the new old school parenting has that covered. The premise is that we love and care for these children, and we will work to get it right.
Parents set generous boundaries for their children, but when they do so they explain exactly why those boundaries are there.
They also encourage their child to achieve; supporting them all the way and ensuring children that if they fail the parents may be disappointed, but that life will still go on and opportunities to regain trust will always appear. Other things new old-schooler parents are looking for:
. Parents can’t do everything, but what they do they want to do well.
. Talk with the child about your rules, let them have a defined level of freedom. When they disobey, talk to them about how you are feeling and why.
. Consequence children and follow through with them rather than giving unexplained punishment.
. Admit when you are wrong, talk about why rules exist and the safety net they offer.
about the important stuff, like feelings, girl stuff, and who is dating whom.
Don’t be shocked if you ask a question and they answer. And if they ask a question and you don’t know the answer, don’t fudge. They will know.
And maybe they need to work to buy their own car even though you can afford it.
Now that’s some serious old school.