Parenting is infinitely complicated, but for the sake of discussion, I’m going to greatly oversimplify it by saying it all comes down to managing the carrot and the stick.
Some parents are into the stick-heavy approach, meaning they believe in high expectations, firm discipline and obedience. They believe children are naturally defiant, lazy, and need to be wrestled into social conformity before developing into jail bound deviants.
Other parents, however, swing in the carrot direction. They believe children are naturally well-intentioned, creative, and mostly need gentle guidance to help them reach complete self-actualization.
Up until recently, I’ve mostly been a carroting parent. I’ve been afraid of stunting my kids’ creativity by worrying about tidiness or of crushing their spirits by being hard on them.
These beliefs seemed to jibe with our society’s feel-good approach to life, as well as our tendency to view it as a zero-sum game. Motherhood means sacrifice, we think, because your suffering means life…
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