Published in  
Matters of the Heart
October 12, 2020

The 7 Styles of Parenting to AVOID

I dare you to read this and not identify with at least one of those styles. Whether you’re a parent or not, some of these stories might just strike a cord or bring back some family memories you’d love to block out.

It’s hard to admit this, but as much as we love our kids, there are times when the feelings aren’t mutual. The little cute babies we doted on, sometimes grow up into rebellious teenagers and spiral out of control. Parenting can be hard, and when we’re backed into a corner, we have no choice but to adopt some counteractive techniques to show exactly ‘Who’s Boss’. When things get ugly, sometimes we become people we don’t even recognize!
So without further ado, let’s sneak into some homes and meet the parents…


  1. The Commanding Officer
    “What do you think you’re doing? Go finish your homework! NOW!”
    “No snacks! Dinner is at 1700 hours. Get dressed!”This parent has zero-tolerance. An authority figure using fear to discipline the ‘Robo-kids’. Yes, this family lives in the same house… but they’ll never call it ‘home’
  2. The Lecturer
    “When I was your age….”
    “Let me tell you what being ‘responsible’ really means…”The classic nostalgic parent who lives in the past and doesn’t get why the kids don’t relate. Expect a lot of ‘eye-rolling’ and ‘whatever-ing’ in this scenario!

As famous thinkers such as Socrates and Plato have said, “Don’t raise your children the way your parents raised you, for they were born for a different time…”. (This is a statement famously attributed to Ali رضي الله عنه  but as Ibn AlQayyim رحمه الله mentioned in Ighasah alLahfan it is a false attribution and rather a statement of Socrates.)

  1. The Associator
    “Why can’t you be more like your brother?”
    “Your cousin won three trophies! Why can’t you work harder?”Nothing hurts or disappoints your child like being compared to someone else.
  2. The Terrorizer
    “I swear if you’re not in bed by the time I count to three, there will be hell to pay!”
    “If you don’t stick by the curfew, you’ll be grounded for 50 years!”Do we really wanna teach our kids to respond to threats? Well, that’s your call.
  3. The Abuser
    “Another C minus in Physics? What are you a moron?”
    “You always do the same mistake! You’ll NEVER learn!”
    “Airhead! Sissy! Loser! Drama queen! Freak!”Behind every child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first…
    And the opposite is also true….
  4. The Off-Hander
    “Take whatever you want, just don’t disturb me again!”
    “Sure dear! Open budget. No curfews. No rules. Go have fun!”Saying yes to everything is the easiest way out. It’s the discipline that’s hard to do and that’s why it’s the true sign of loving care.
  5. The Emotional Blackmailer
    “I gave up everything for you but you’re so ungrateful”
    “I spent thousands and thousands….”

The usual response kids mumble under their breath is ‘NO ONE ASKED YOU TO!’. Our children need to thrive with love and motivation, not guilt.
The Perfect 8th Style

You’re probably thinking ‘What’s left? All the permissible coercion tools have been slammed down and we’ve been stripped out of all our parental power!’

Well, there’s another way. A great effective style and it’s been inspired by the best of the best….

Yes, none other than our beloved Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم himself.

 “Be kind to your children, and perfect their manners.” [Sunan Ibn Majah] (Status – Daeef)
Kindness comes first and then discipline. Appreciation and compliments come first and good manners will surely follow.

Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم used to stand up and kiss his daughter Fatima’s forehead when she walked in. Again, HE is the one who stood up!

He صلى الله عليه وسلم kept Umair company when his bird died and consoled the young sad boy.

Once the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was passing around a jug of water and he asked the young boy seated closest to him for permission to start with the elders. (Of course the boy said ‘NO WAY!’ He wanted to be the first one to touch the jug after the Prophet and the Prophet smiled and said ‘it’s your right’).

He showed love to children, but more importantly he acknowledged their existence, and that’s the key to perfect parenting:  Acknowledgment and respect.

Giving our teens too much freedom will spoil them, and depriving them of it will suffocate them. Kindness is in finding that middle ground between two extremes. If we really want them to grow up we need to treat them like grown-ups! And a big part of that is in remembering to allow them to be human! To make mistakes and learn from them without fearing emotional execution! I mean, come on, between you and me, what kinds of trouble were you up to when you were their age? (Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone lol)

With all the follow-ups, homework checks, planning, finals, deadlines, worrying about them, grounding them, warning them, yelling and pulling our hair with frustration, we forget the best part of parenting – we forget to enjoy our kids.

“Enjoy them you say? Oh! You don’t know my teenager!’ (I have to assume there’s always someone in the crowd scoffing)

But I do know your teenagers. I know they need your approval, your unconditional love and support. I know they need to feel heard, acknowledged, and important – like their opinion matters!

They’ll kick up dust when they can because its their hormonal right, but I also know they’ll need you to correct and guide without disrespecting them. They need consistency in both love and discipline.

Once the bedtime fairy-tales phase is over, some of our kids will go out into the real world and put us through hell. And they’ll secretly hope we’re strong enough to protect them from it.

Our kids aren’t angels – but they’re our gateway to paradise…

Believe in them, and let true love and respect lead the way….


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