Parenting is not like math or science where black is black and white is white. It is more of an art that shifts and changes with the circumstances, and with the needs of your children.
Actually, parenting can be likened to a dance that has three basic steps:
- The leading step where the parent is in front, leading the dance. Let’s call this the Ballroom Dance.
- The side-by-side step where the parent is walking beside them in the dance. This one is more like The Line Dance.
- The sideline step where the parent empowers their children to go out on their own. We’ll tag this one the Break Dance.
The parenting “dance” takes on each of these different steps for as long as your child is in your home. Let’s look a little closer at each dance step.
The Leading Step—The Ballroom Dance.
When your child is little, you use the leading step a lot. They need someone to guide and protect, and a model to emulate as they grow into adulthood. Like ballroom dancing, this parenting dance is led strongly by one of the dancers and that would be you as the parent.
As your child grows, you may not use the leading step as often, allowing them to learn how to lead themselves.
The Side-By-Side Step—Line Dancing.
If you’ve ever done line dancing, then you know that everyone dances on their own, next to each other. The dancers often look at each other and encourage each other as they all strive to follow the same steps.
As a parent, you will do this “dance” more when your kids are in early adolescence. In the side-by-side dance, you are there to listen, encourage, coach and support your child as they start to think and lead themselves.
However, you will most likely be doing a mix of line and ballroom steps as your child gets closer to being a teen and in their early teens. There will be times when they need you to be a strong leader and there will be times when the best thing for them is for you to simply encourage, support, and listen.
The Sideline Step–Break Dancing.
If you’ve ever seen a break dancer do their thing, you know they are out there spinning and twisting and are surrounded by a circle of onlookers. No one else is dancing with them; they are doing it all on their own.
As your child becomes an older teen, you will be doing less and less ballroom steps, more line dancing steps, and slowly introducing break dancing steps into your parenting dance routine.
The goal of the sideline step–break dancing–is to stay on the sidelines and empower your kids to go out on their own. The is probably the toughest dance for parents to learn because it’s hard to let go. But if you’re not break dancing with your child by the time they leave for college, then they will not be ready to face the world on their own.
Learn to Dance…
The best way to continue to connect with your child and maintain a solid relationship is to learn how to do the parenting dance that requires these different steps. Be patient with yourself as you learn this dance. It takes time and practice and just when you think you have one step down, you will be forced to learn another.