More balanced parenting approach needed

Tough love parenting methods in both instances were discussed within the range of behavioural extremes: "doing nothing" and its opposing spectrum.
Tough love parenting methods in both instances were discussed within the range of behavioural extremes: "doing nothing" and its opposing spectrum.PHOTO: ST FILE

I read with concern the topic of the tough love parenting style raised by Ms Tee Hun Ching (Want to be a better parent? Try doing nothing, March 31) and Mr Lim Boon Seng (Tough love will help kids today, April 3).

Tough love parenting methods in both instances were discussed within the range of behavioural extremes: "doing nothing" and its opposing spectrum.

If there is an unspoken consensus to raise our young into responsible and compassionate adults, then it is worth exploring the actual effectiveness of this parenting style towards the development of these two character traits based on their assertions.

Love does not over-or under-commit. If there is any inclination towards either, then it is possible that there is little empathy or understanding aside from trying to push for a quick change.

However we define love or tough love, the whole process should help both the giver and recipient to grow stronger and wiser in their concern towards each other, not just after a desirable behaviour has been achieved.

It is never really a top-down approach even though a parent and child are not partners or equals.

Some adults may find it helpful to share personal anecdotes where their parents stopped engaging with them until they landed a full-time job or got rid of their addiction to something. I am glad that things worked out for them.

On the other hand, let's not dismiss altogether that there are parents who were indifferent or didn't want to seriously consider what could be a real possibility - that their children could have chosen to seek "comfort" from undesirable characters or people with similar misguided values as a result of their ultimatum.

I hope more parents will choose a balanced approach towards parenting. When sincere concern is lacking or inconsistent and mutual trust is weak, tough love won't work or be as effective in the long run.

As author L.R. Knost said: "It's not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It's our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless."

George Toh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2019, with the headline 'More balanced parenting approach needed'. Print Edition | Subscribe