The Trouble With Iron Fist Parenting

by Miriam

As a girl with two very different personalities as parents, I try to highlight the reasons I believe the hard-line approach to parenting does more harm than good.

Many parents believe that the best way to raise model children and instil respect is by taking a hard line with their kids in order that they be feared so as to assert authority. I have seen the perils of this first hand observing my own friends who had parents like this and it is accurate to say that they are one person in front of their parents and quite another in reality! Don't fall into the trap of believing that being Machiavellian is the best way to mould well balanced young people.

What Is Meant By Iron Fist Parent?

I am not talking about parents who discipline their children because any good parent would find an effective way to do this, what I'm referring to are the parents who take discipline to the extreme and have controlling tendencies toward their children. For example, a friend of mine has a mother who can only be described as an iron fist parent. When we were younger this friend's mother had a very controlling attitude when it came to boys (and everything else) and told her she didn't want her having any associations with them whatsoever (this meaning not having any friends who were boys and not talking to boys at school!). Although in her mind she was just trying to protect her daughter from predatory boys, this only alienated her daughter and created a gulf between them in that the daughter was now unable to have honest conversations with her mother about boy-related things and only had her friends to turn to. Needless to say mothers are probably wiser than friends! Of course this friend lead a double life with one fake persona to appease her mother and one real persona that only her friends were able to see. And yes, she was very much involved with MANY boys... with her mother blissfully unaware and no doubt believing that the hard line she took had helped her daughter! 

Often there are some successes from having iron fist parents, but at what cost?
Michael Jackson and Father Joe Jackson.
Michael Jackson and Father Joe Jackson.

"Tiger Mothers",9171,2043477,...
Interesting Time Magazine article on whether or not strict parenting is the answer.

in an ideal world...

No parents are perfect and everybody makes mistakes, parents and children alike. The theoretical 'ideal' when it comes to parenting is the kind of parenting style which seeks to nurture every area of who a child is. It is a balanced approach to parenting in which there is a healthy degree of professed love and affection, communication and honesty and discipline. I believe that parents should not be too proud to apologize as I feel that doing so makes them an even stronger personality, the ability to admit they are wrong... assuming they're ever wrong :-|. Although I don't believe in hitting children, I accept that many people do and this can be a good tool in disciplining children only when it is absolutely necessary. In my opinion there are better ways of dealing with children but what do I know...

We Are Family!

we should aspire to an ideal balance.
The Obamas
The Obamas

Web MD's 16 Signs You're Too Strict With Your Kids.

Updated: 02/17/2012, Miriam
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Miriam on 02/17/2012

Thanks! yeah I think as the kids get older parents have to communicate more and more and possibly sometimes lecture them when it is necessary. This way they are more likely to come to you when they need advice or to ask for help if things are going awry in their personal lives! They probably wouldn't want to share everything but at least you'd know more than the scary iron fist parent would know.

MuminBusiness on 02/17/2012

I think it is a great start! You did good, girl!

In terms of parenting, I agree the iron fist rarely works as children can pretend to be agreeable and then do all manner of stuff behind your back. I would rather keep communication open. A bit difficult when they are really young though as they do not always understand reason...

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