What is “Lighthouse Parenting”? It is a guiding philosophy for parents in finding the balance between being a helicopter parent and being too lax and uncaring. It's about letting children explore on their own while still being supportive and attentive.
The Lighthouse Parenting Strategy was coined by pediatrician Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg in his book Raising Kids to Thrive:Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust.
In it he said, “We should be like lighthouses for our children. Stable beacons of light on the shoreline from which they can measure themselves against. Role models. We should look down at the rocks and make sure they do not crash against them. We should look into the water and prepare them to ride the waves, and we should trust in their capacity to learn to do so.”
Kids are the boats sailing on the ocean, and parents are their lighthouses. Parents are the beacons of light that keep a watchful eye, guiding them to the right direction. And when waves come, they trust in their children’s abilities to sail the waters on their own.
“A lighthouse parent understands that sometimes kids need to learn from failure,” Ginsburg told ABC News. Children will experience their own trials and parents wouldn’t want to completely protect their children from these nor would they want them to go unguided.
Instead, parents will be lighthouses. Giving advise, support and encouragement so that they learn to overcome their obstacles on their own. And, slowly but surely, become resilient and capable individuals.
Developmental psychologist Dr. Richard Rende shared 5 key factors for lighthouse parenting:
1. Love without conditions “Provide unconditional love, but not unconditional approval; Set boundaries for what is acceptable and what is not; Disapprove behaviors, not the child,” said Rende.
Instead of saying “Nagagalit ako kasi ang kulit mo (I'm angry because you're naughty),” explain to him that you’re angry because of his misbehavior. Don’t point at the child directly.
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2. Set the right kind of high expectations “Set realistic goals that can be met, emphasizing stretching for that next level; Focus on effort, not performance; Embrace the ups and downs, which are both necessary steps when pursuing success.”
Instead of praising your child for getting a high score on a test, praise him for the hard work he put into studying. And when your child fails, don’t get angry. Encourage him to get back up and try again.
3. Be protective, not overprotective “Cultivate trust, which serves to protect, but don’t smother; Allow mistakes to be made but within your protective gaze to balance risk and safety (take off the training wheels but be there just in case).”
4. Nurture coping skills Create a home that is open and accepting. Let your child know that he can share his feelings and problems with you. Help your child identify his problems on his own and guide him towards the right steps to take in tackling the issue. And, “teach good self-regulation skills including ways to reduce stress like breathing exercises,” according to Rende.
5. Cultivate communication When your child opens up to you, make him feel that this is a safe place. Maintain calmness when listening and don’t rush to judge, said Rende.
“When talking to your child avoid the overuse of “you” (e.g., “You did this … you did that”) which can sound like blame, rather use “I” (e.g., “I was worried because …) which promotes empathy.
Sources: June 18, 2015. "Lighthouse Parenting: 5 Ways to Strike the Right Balance". parents.com April 2015. "I’m All About "Lighthouse Parenting"". babble.com
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