Podcast: Finding a balance in parenting students

This podcast is the first part of a series covering the different types of parenting and the impacts they have on a student’s life.

Angela Cao: Hi, my name is Angela.

Natalie Jiang: My name is Natalie.

Cao: And today we’ll be talking about the effects of parenting on students.

Jiang: So I think the main thing is developing a balance between being strict and allowing your child to have freedom, and honestly that’s really difficult to attain. And oftentimes, parents can’t really do that or they simply don’t, and oftentimes it becomes very polarized between extremely strict parents and parents that just let their kids do whatever.

Cao: Right so with this polarization let’s talk about strict parents first. So strict parents typically control everything their students do, and they don’t really allow their child to have any decisions. And personally, I believe it’s restricting and almost counterintuitive because if you’re making your kid doing something they don’t want to do, then in the end they’re either going to work against you or be miserable.

Jiang: I feel like a lot of times, strict parents don’t come from a place of malice like “I hate you, I’m going to make you do things you don’t want to do.” It often comes from a place of anxiety because they’re afraid of, “Oh if my child does this, she’s not going to succeed. I’m going to do the thing that works for sure. And even though it’s going to be hard on my child or be something she doesn’t want to do, I think it’s the way that will lead her to success, money and a healthy life.” Although they don’t really take into consideration the emotional aspect of that bit. Honestly, strict parents, they come from a place of love and just want to best for their child.

Cao: Right, I do agree with that. I think they have good intentions, but the means they go to reach that intention isn’t the best.

Jiang: Right, the road to hell is paved with good intentions [laugh]. So oftentimes, I think communication is very important between parent and child. And personally, over the years with my parents, our relationship has grown a lot better because we started communicating more and communicating in a way that doesn’t sound hurtful or angry to each other. It’s coming from a place of, “Hey I’m not too comfortable with what’s going with you, let’s just sit down and talk about it.” We just sit down and talk about it. And I think a big thing parents need to do is realize that ultimately it’s not their lives. I feel like some parents are projecting, “I wish I had done this, so I’m going to make my child do this.” I think projecting what parents want onto your child is not good parenting. It’s acknowledging that your child is a person too, and one day they’re going to grow up, be an adult, leave the house and live their own life. And I think it’s important for parents to remember that and know that it’s ultimately their child’s life. Yes, they do need guidance but their paths shouldn’t be determined for them, they need to make some decisions of their own.

Cao: So I think we would agree that strict parenting isn’t the best way to go about it. Well what do you think about chill parenting? Personally, I think that they should still have somewhat of a say. Because as children, you don’t really know what you’re doing, you don’t know what future you want to go for. And sometimes that little push is necessary.

Jiang: Yeah, definitely. Oftentimes I think it varies on a day-to-day basis, and it depends on looking at your child. Is she very motivated? Is she ambitious? Does she know what she wants? If she does, she doesn’t need as much guidance as someone who’s kind of questioning what path they want to pursue. I feel like for more chill parents, some students require guidance. They also need a push, but ultimately freedom in making decisions, exploring things on their own is also very beneficial because then children learn on their own versus being told what to do and learning from that.

Cao: So there’s probably a line you shouldn’t cross when it comes to giving them a freedom, but you also shouldn’t give them too much freedom to do whatever they want or go whatever they want. I agree with what you said before about communication is really important in a relationship. You have to let each other know when you want more freedom, when the parent thinks that their doing the best for you and not going against you.

Jiang: So ultimately it comes down to maintaining a balance, and it’s really difficult to do so. And a lot of times, I don’t think it’s obtained, I don’t think parents can just get right away. But to at least get closer to that balance, it all comes down to communication, being reasonable and knowing when to compromise. You have to give on both sides in order to get.

Cao: Yeah, I think compromisation is a really important part of this. You can’t get what you want, you can’t please both parties. You have to give some, get some. And that also relates back to parenting. Parents think they’re doing the best for their children, and that’s not always the case. But at the same time, children think they’re doing the best for themselves, and —

Jiang: — and oftentimes they don’t.

Cao: And oftentimes they don’t.

Jiang: Because they’re young, they’re still learning. I think in all cases, it’s all a learning experience, it’s learning through different things in your lifetime, and that things will be better. This is the first time we’re living and making decisions. This is the first-time experience, and we’re still learning from it. And oftentimes, it’s the parents’ first time parenting, they don’t know what to do either. So we have to kind of have to work together to achieve what we both want.

Cao: So it’s kind of like a partnership, and a learning experience for both parties.

By Angela Cao, Longform editor and Natalie Jiang, News editor