Do you ‘pendulum parent’?

Feb, 28, 2023

I’m not a fan of the terms that are so often used to describe and critique parents;

  • Curling parenting
  • Snowflake parenting

Those, feel to me like passive aggressive digs at parents at doing the best they know how. And rarely make parenting feel any easier.

When we sum up a parent’s behaviour in that way, we easily overlook the undeniable positive intention that all engaged parents share;

To give our children the very best start in life

In preparing for my latest podcast episode the other week, I took a moment to verify on Google, that the term ‘Pendulum Parenting’ is in fact my own term for a parenting dynamic that I recognise in myself and in so many of the parents I’m fortunate to support.

Alas, as it turns out – I can’t copyright this term as it’s been described by others. But more importantly, it saddened me to see that most of the articles that popped up on ‘pendulum parenting’ were rather derogatory;

Here’s one;

“When parents overcompensate and screw their kids up in the opposite way their parents screwed them up”

I have more to say about this topic – so much so that I’ve devoted an entire podcast episode to this topic.

The missing piece

What’s missing from this over-simplified description is WHY many of us have a tendency to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction when we ourselves become parents. And why we often do so more passionately depending on the level of pain we associate with what we are trying to avoid passing on or fail to give our own children.

Let me give you some examples of childhood experiences that can make it tempting to swing the pendulum well and truly in the opposite direction, in order to distance ourselves from what felt painful;

  • A strict and authoritative parent
  • A childhood of neglect and emotionally unavailable parenting
  • Divorce, betrayal and uncertainty
  • Having to be the adult in the family and taking on a lot of responsibility at a young age.

The thing that trips us up when we ‘pendulum parent’

Although seeking to break generational trauma and using past hurts as a teacher, it is often difficult to find the balance when we swing the pendulum the directly opposite way.

In other words;

We often end up ‘over-correcting’ and become a little ‘all-or-nothing’ in our way of thinking.

This can make it difficult to know how to:

  • Empathise AND set boundaries
  • Listen AND withdraw
  • Allowing feelings AND say no to certain behaviours
  • Understanding our child’s intentions AND teaching them accountability

Sometimes we need to seek parenting support in the shape of 1:1 session to get clearer on our own blind spots – and other times a podcast listen, can be just what we needed in order to move forward with more clarity.

Head over to Apple Podcast (or click the link below) and listen to the episode:

“Do you pendulum parent?”

I give many more examples of how this dynamic shows up in our parenting and what you can do to begin the journey of becoming more impactful and creating more balance in your parenting.

Louise Brooks

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