Is There a Right Way or Wrong Way To Raise Children?

by denny hagel on September 24, 2011

Do you believe there a right way or wrong way to raise children? This question has been the fuel for many heated discussions and debates throughout the years between parents, parenting coaches, psychologists and parenting experts. It is the one thing all parents will have an opinion on…how to raise their children. Parents take raising their children very personally and for the most part believe that because they have either biologically produced or legally assumed responsibility for a child’s life they instinctively know what is best for that child. Parenting professionals tend to incorporate their personal thoughts and opinions that are reflective of their own personalities and experiences into their approach to parenting and strongly support their method.
This is not the same as a parent struggling with specific situations feeling they could benefit from an outside opinion or guidance from a family member, friend or even a parenting coach. In fact, almost all of the families I work with come with a detailed agenda that they would like to address. It can be anything from an unwanted behavior to a particular emotion they are struggling with such as fear, anxiety or frustration. Regardless, they all stem from the desire to change something very specific either in their child’s behavior or in their relationship with their child.
But when you are discussing the “right” or “wrong” of parenting, every parent I know will argue the point that they know their children better than anyone (which is not always the case) and therefore know better than anyone how to relate or “handle” their children. The common belief is that because every person is so unique there can’t be a one-size-fits-all style of parenting. What works for one may not work for another. And this is true…to an extent.
Although my parenting method is deeply rooted in the belief of respecting the individuality and uniqueness of every child, we do have to face the fact that we are all first and foremost human beings. And with that comes certain things we all have in common.
And although the commonalities are very general characteristics I believe they are at the core of what is "right" and what is "wrong" when the goal is to successfully guide children to live happy and successful lives.
For example,
  • Do you know anyone who responds well to constant criticism?
  • Do you know anyone who performs at their best when being screamed at?
  • Do you know anyone who reacts in a positive way when surrounded by negativity?

I think we can all agree that the answer is no to all of these questions.

With all of that being said, I do believe there is a right way and wrong way to raise your children. However, I also believe that the “right way” is unique to each family and determining it depends on one very important consideration.
What are your immediate and long-term goals for your child?
  • Do you want your child to be independent or dependent?
  • Do you want your child to be cooperative?
  • Do you want your child to have an attitude of gratitude?
  • Do you want your child to be respectful and considerate? 
  • Do you want your child to love themselves and love life?
  • Do you want your child to openly communicate with you?
  • Do you want your child to trust you?
  • Do you want your child to have a positive attitude?
  • Do you want your child to be respectful?
  • Do you want your child to have a sense of personal responsibility?
  • Do you want your child to go through life fulfilled and passionate?
  • Do you want your child to have the courage to live out his dreams?
Determining the answer to these critical questions will provide you with very specific criteria as to how you need to approach your parenting journey. It is a matter of identifying the intended outcome and then applying the proper ingredients to achieve the desired results. To do otherwise is not a recipe for success but a recipe for anxiety, frustration and stress. It is no different than saying you want to bake a cake and then leaving out eggs and adding sugar instead of flour. When you have clearly defined your desires for your children (what kind of cake) you will then have a specific list of ingredients that you must incorporate into raising your children…otherwise you will never get the result (delicious cake) that you want.
Of course you will have to adapt your approach with consideration for your child's personality and character traits (some ovens cook faster/slower than others so you need to adjust the temperature and baking time). And this is where your unique knowledge of your child comes into play. You will know how your child learns best, what things they respond to and what things shut them down.
My granddaughter Kaitlyn, has a very open-minded personality and is always anxious to learn. Open communication is very effective with her. Her brother, Zachary, is all about instant gratification which prompts him to frequently act without thinking through possible consequences. I have learned, by understanding these differences between them, that I need to relate to them very differently. What is the “right” way to raise Kaitlyn is the absolute “wrong” way to raise her brother.
You must always be mindful of the missing secret to successful parenting…which is that you are the most powerful influence in your children's lives and what you model to your children will have a huge impact on what you will see in your children. Determining whether you are parenting your children the right way or the wrong way will depend solely on whether or not you are providing the necessary ingredients for the desired result you want. AND if you are not, then understanding you have the power to choose to change the recipe!
I would love to hear your thoughts…please scroll down to the comment section and share!

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Denny Hagel is a child advocate and parenting coach, devoting over 25 years to the success and well being of all children. She is the published author of over 60 articles on parenting, many of which have attracted international attention in over 24 countries.

Denny was blessed with forward thinking parents who raised her with an understanding of her value as an individual, her innate power to choose by way of her thoughts, ideas, opinions and beliefs, thus, instilling in her a strong sense of personal responsibility for what happens in our lives

She is the founder of Awakened Parenting LLC, a company dedicated to helping parents release parenting paradigms of the past and consciously choose to raise their children to approach life with a positive mindset and strong sense of self. It is Denny’s passion to combine what she learned through her formal education in early childhood education and psychology and what her parents instilled in her and pass this on to all parents.

Denny has created the discussion group "Awakened Parenting Discussion Forum" on Face Book which now has over 600 members.  She does on line coaching with parents and teachers who consult her on a regular basis. Denny collaborates with counselors, authors, coaches and others working in the parent coaching field. Denny Hagel is the author of the newly published "The Missing Secret to Parenting", "The C.P.R. Program for Parents & Teens: Conflict Prevention/Resolution Formula", "Mini-Me Syndrome" and two free e-booklets Parenting Using the Law of Attraction and Becoming an Awakened Parent".

  • Beth Heilman

    Having four kids (and still raising one of them), I know what you mean about working with each child’s uniqueness. Love the recipe analogy!! Thanks for a wonderful article!!

  • Anonymous

    Denny, when I see the effect of parents NOT knowing what you’re sharing these days … in the form of my adult coaching clients who are dealing with all the baggage they absorbed as kids … I think this information should somehow be distributed through the schools, or churches, or something!  So vital!

  • Tamarah

    I love that you look to honor the child in the parenting process.  Each one IS so unique that the parenting process will be as unique as well.  This parenting style does seem to require more effort on the part of the parent to learn and develop different skills to help the kids become their best selves.  Challenging but worth it I’d say.  I have a lot of work to do here!

  • Anastasiya Day

    Great article! I don’t have kids, but when I used to work in a school, as a teacher I had to approach all kids in a different and unique way. The key is communication  and the best ways is to listen to the kids… although it wasn’t easy when I had 25 kids in the class… Thank you for sharing!

  • Olga

    You know when we raise our kids in their uniques way; they become better people and we become better people as well because we are challenged to grow our personality as well. It is a win win situation. Most of the time parents get in a powerstruggle with their children which is absolutely NOT necessary.

  • Jen

    Denny-I just LOVE the questions you posted!  These are great things to really think on and ponder!  Thanks for sharing! 

  • Solvita

    Thank you Denny for posting such an important information for parents. It is a real eye opener for many ~ especially about criticism!

  • Patcruickshank

    Sure enjoyed your article especially your baking analogy about akjusting the temperature the cooking times!   I raised 4 children and really found this to be true. 

  • Donaldwells

    I love being all this good advice… and I’m getting it all for free!

  • Carla J Gardiner

    As a fiery grandma of four who loves her grandchildren like crazy I am so glad I am not in your position, Denny. That position of raising grandchildren can at times detract from the privilege of being a grandma. Although I know you love them terribly, it is more fun to truly be the grandma and not the disciplinarian, nurse, chauffuer and maid to the darling kids. I give you many kudos my friend you have more endurance than I…especially after returning from vacation with ours…I was pooped from days spent at the beach building sandcastles and beach combing.

    I really like your comment about the “right and wrong” way of raising up each individual child according to each family’s standards. This is so true and as a grandma I found myself biting my tongue more than once last week. We have to allow our kids to be the parents we raised them up to be and bask in the wonder of just being grandma.


  • AJ

    Great post Denny!
    You give great advice on one of the hardest jobs we can ever have, raising our children.

  • Claudia

    Denny, the sets of questions are powerful way for us parents to stay focus on the right things.

  • Lyndeutsch

    Excellent article and most helpful!

  • Carol Giambri

    Great article Denny.  I love the questions and yes no two children are alike so that has to be taken into consideration parenting each child. 

  • Wil

    Denny, This was a very helpful article for parents and anyone involved in bringing up children.
    Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Naomi

    There is definately not a right or wrong way. I think parent by gut use what you know about what your parents did to parent you and take the bits you admire/liked and then listen to their advice and take from that too. There is so much advice out there about parenting but you need to filter it out. The questions are a great prompt for many parents who perhaps are not getting the response they want from their children.

  • Hughie Bagnell

    Thank you Denny for once again sharing your great wisdom! …Hughie

  • Denny Hagel

    You are welcome Hughie!

  • Denny Hagel

    Agreed…which is why it is so important for parents to be clear on what they would like their parenting journey to accomplish, otherwise how can the necessary choices be incorporated. Thanks for commenting!

  • Denny Hagel

    Thanks Wil! :)

  • Denny Hagel

    I appreciate you commenting Carol…always so supportive! :)

  • Denny Hagel

    I appreciate your comment Claudia!

  • Denny Hagel

    It is interesting how the lines of motherhood and grand-motherhood can become blurred due to circumstances beyond our control…regardless of our situations, we love them with all we have! :)

  • Denny Hagel

    Thanks Pat!

  • Denny Hagel

    You’re very welcome Solvita! Thanks for commenting!

  • Denny Hagel

    Well said Olga…I am always in favor of “win-win”! :)

  • Denny Hagel

    I am sure you were an amazing influence on your students!

  • Denny Hagel

    You are right Tamarah, the best gift we give our children is a parenting mindset that is free from limiting beliefs! :)

  • Denny Hagel

    Thanks Sharon, I couldn’t agree more!!!

  • Denny Hagel

    You are very welcome!

  • pamela wright

    Thanks, Denny for this very thoughtful article!  I love that we (parents) can change the recipe!!

  • Joanie McMahon

    Another great post Denny

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  • Daniel Tortuga

    I  love  the   “Cake”   recipe   to  produce  a   competent  child/adult.  
    Ja,  Ja..   bake  for  18  years:)
    Give  them   Roots  &  Wings
    P.M.S.S.   ..Physical,  Mental,  Spiritual,  and  Social  Skills

  • Daniel Tortuga

    I  love  the   “Cake”   recipe.     Hmm..  Bake  for  18  years:)
    Give  them   Roots  and  Wings.
    PMSS..   Physical,  Mental,  Spiritual,  and  Social  Skills.

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  • ArmyWife82

    I love the way you wrote this. It was very easy to read and understand. I am a first time parent dealing with the terrible twos and it has been frustrating for both me and my son. I cannot wait to get your book and so happy I saw this while you book was still on sale.

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