Not Your Parents’ Discipline: How Parenting Has Changed Over the Years, and What It Means for Your Co-Parenting

August 17th


“I want to do better for my kids,” and “I was raised that way, and I turned out fine!” These two statements represent two conflicting sides of a perennial debate that rages on amongst today’s co-parents. We often hear people talk about how they want to give their children a better upbringing; yet at the same time, we also hear others question what’s so wrong with the “old” ways if we’ve lived to tell about it. So which is it? Should we aim to be different, or follow in our ancestors’ footsteps? Join Koh-Parenting as we set out on a two-part journey to find the answer. This week, we’ll travel through time to explore the changes in child-rearing practices over the years, and what it all means for your co-parenting. Stay tuned for part 2, where we’ll discuss the impact of your parents’ choices on your current behavior.

The Gist

  • Parenting practices have evolved over the years, due to a variety of factors including advancements in research, healthcare, and technology, increased availability of information on best practices, changing dynamics of American families, and greater awareness of the importance of children’s mental health.
  • Over time, child-rearing approaches have generally progressed from being reactive/punitive to being more proactive and nurturing. Positive discipline is an example of a popular present-day philosophy that takes a more loving stance toward parenting.
  • While parenting has trended toward a more caring, respectful approach, there is still great debate amongst professionals and caregivers themselves. Today’s parents face an abundance of conflicting information, and this can be confusing.
  • Co-parents can be most effective with their parenting when they work together to synchronize their approach to discipline.

Parenting Through the Ages:

There’s no question that the science of caring for children has evolved greatly over the years. Our perception of children, childhood, and the parent-child relationship has changed, which in turn has shifted aspects of our parenting, including:

  • How we handle emotions and their expression
  • How we view children and their brains: are they unique beings who should be treated according to their age, or little adults who should be made to conform to the adult way of doing things?
  • Who leads the way: Should we allow our children to set the tone and follow their cues, or should we be directing what they do?
  • How we structure our routines: should they be rigid/fixed, or flexible?
  • How we motivate them: through punishment, or through rewards?
Mom talk with teenager suffering at home
  • How we foster independence in their actions and thoughts: how long do we do things for them, and at what point do we expect them to act independently? Do we encourage them to question us, or demand blind obedience?

Let’s explore the progression of the predominant societal beliefs about caring for children.

By Koh-Parenting Services LLC

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