Parents are described in so many different terms nowadays. There are tiger parents, free-range parents, helicopter parents, and now, there are lighthouse parents, among others. What does it mean to be a lighthouse parent? Have you been a lighthouse parent all along? Do you think this type of parenting is right for you and your children? Let’s find out.
More than the authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved types of parenting, there are other types of parenting, which are described by the way we parents raise and discipline our children. For one, there is what is called “lighthouse parenting”.
Table of contents
- What is lighthouse parenting
- What it means to be a lighthouse parent
- How lighthouse parenting compares with other types of parenting
- The bottom line
What is lighthouse parenting
Dr Kenneth Ginsburg, a paediatrician and author, wrote in his book, “Raising Kids to Thrive: Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust”, that as parents, we should be like lighthouses for our children. We must be their roles models and serve as stable beacons of light for them. We need to see to it that they do not crash against the rocks by preparing them to ride the waves of life even if the journey can get rough. We also need to trust in their capacity to learn to live life.
What it means to be a lighthouse parent
There are some principles by which lighthouse parenting is grounded to become an effective parent. Here’s what it means to be a lighthouse parent:
(1) Giving unconditional love
Giving unconditional affection, acceptance, and love to our children helps make them feel secure. When they feel secure, they can be more confident in dealing with the challenges of life.
(2) Giving conditional approval
Unconditional love for our children does not automatically mean giving approval to everything they want. We need to draw a clear line that while we always love our children, we do not always approve of their behavior.
(3) Setting high yet realistic expectations
Goals and expectations help our children reach success no matter what stage in life they are in. In lighthouse parenting, we parents are encouraged to set the right kind of realistic expectations and attainable goals for our children. We have to be there to support them and help them focus on their effort rather than the outcome alone. It is also our role to help them embrace the difficulties they go through.
(4) Allowing children to fail
Speaking of difficulties, we must allow our children to fail. They need to experience failures to understand the realities of life and for them to develop resilience.
(5) Giving enough protection
While it is okay for our children to fail, it is our duty as parents to keep our children from harm. We need to protect them from difficulties and challenges that are not meant for them or are not appropriate for their age. It is like letting our children ride on a bike with training wheels and remove them when it is the right time. We can be watchful, but we should not be overprotective. This way, they can gain more confidence in themselves.
(6) Helping children cope
Lighthouse parenting believes in providing structure to children. It means guiding them and helping them cope with stress, fear, anxiety, and other emotions and challenges. As parents, we have the role to teach our children coping mechanisms, such as deep breathing, time-outs, writing, drawing, and talking to us.
(7) Encouraging communication
As a lighthouse parent, we need to cultivate communication and teach our children how to effectively communicate their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. We need to talk to them with calmness, kindness and empathy. We listen to what they have to say with concern and without judgment.
How lighthouse parenting compares with other types of parenting
Lighthouse parenting may have similar and varying principles with other types of parenting. Here is an overview of other parenting styles that will help us compare lighthouse parenting with other ways of raising children.
Authoritarian parenting: Parents are strict, demanding, and controlling of their children’s behaviour and emotions. Children have very limited independence with authoritarian parents.
Permissive parenting: Parents allow their children to make their own choices with very little or no guidance and limits at all. They tend to focus too much on the emotional needs of their children as opposed to the authoritarian type of parenting.
Authoritative parenting: This ideal type of parenting seeks to maintain a balance where parents are not too strict but are not too permissive either. They try to balance warmth, affection, and attention to their children, but at the same time guide their children and set limits and boundaries.
Uninvolved parenting: Parents are being indifferent, dismissive, and neglectful. They are not being responsive to their children’s needs of their children.
Helicopter parenting: Parents are like helicopters that hover and oversee their children in every aspect of their lives. They constantly pay very close attention to their children’s experiences and problems and immediately rescue them when needed.
Tiger parenting: Parents can get demanding in this type of parenting as they try to prioritize their children’s academic success over almost anything. Their children’s choices and independence become very limited. It is like an authoritarian type of parenting combined with helicopter parenting.
Hummingbird parenting: This type of parenting is a relatively new label that combines the principles of support and confidence. It is described as a muted form of helicopter parenting where parents oversee their children, rescue them when needed, but do not interfere too much with their children’s decisions.
The bottom line
A lighthouse type of parenting can be a very ideal parenting style, but you have to ask yourself some questions if it is the right parenting style for you and your children. Do you agree with its principles? Does this parenting style resonate with how you generally want to raise your children? Would you be comfortable with the independence you give your children or the limits you set? It is all up to you.
Being a parent, we only want what is best for our children. You may have a different style in raising your children compared to other parents and it’s alright. You may even combine different parenting styles just like what other parents are doing and it’s totally okay, too. As long as you keep in mind the welfare of your children and your family as a whole, then you will do just great.