Since the 2020s, new names characterizing educational goals have been appearing on the web time and again. Ultimately, they are all variations on long-known parenting styles that are gaining a lot of popularity through social media platforms.
The term jellyfish parenting is modeled on the anatomy of jellyfish: the animals are flabby, soft, translucent and barely tangible. This is exactly how jellyfish parents behave toward their children. Like invertebrates, they adapt to any situation. This has advantages, but also many disadvantages for the development of the children.
The jellyfish parenting style is as squishy, flabby, and virtually intangible as the jellyfish themselves. Jellyfish parents are flexible in every way. They are anti-authoritarian, but also imprecise, devoid of principles and clear lines. The parenting type is the opposite of the authoritarian tiger parent type, who makes very high demands on their children, expects discipline and top performance.
Jellyfish parents: advantages of the parenting style
Jellyfish parents take a very casual view of parenting. They do not have clear educational principles and are anything but strict. They are also usually very lenient themselves. (So you can’t necessarily expect them to keep deadlines exactly).
Jellyfish parents listen carefully to what their child wants and always try to fulfill their wishes. They adapt to their child, not the other way around. The child decides what to do, in all matters. However, because they are very flexible, jellyfish parents can be very spontaneous in meeting the needs of their offspring. This makes them more relaxed in stressful situations, which are common in everyday life with children. This also eliminates the possibility of stress being transferred to the child.
Children of jellyfish parents are usually more relaxed than others. They often have good self-esteem because they were allowed to act autonomously and independently at an early age. As a result, they feel safe and protected. Jellyfish parents give children the space to face challenges and encourage their adaptability. These qualities will serve the children well later in life. Since children raised by jellyfish parents have usually experienced setbacks, they know that mistakes are part of life. This is another important life skill
Jellyfish parents: Disadvantages of the parenting style
While jellyfish parents give their children a lot of freedom to make decisions, they also quickly overwhelm them. This is because children enjoy these freedoms at an age when they are not yet able to make good decisions for themselves. Since they are not given clear boundaries, they can cause very big problems for their fellow human beings later on. This is because wherever clear rules are essential (kindergarten, school, university and the workplace), conflicts will arise with fellow parents and superiors.
Jellyfish parents do not see themselves as authority figures, but in the role of their child’s best friend. But in doing so, they completely misunderstand their educational role. A child is in need of protection and is dependent on its parents. Therefore, parents must provide clear rules and set limits, otherwise you would be imposing too much responsibility on your child. Children need a strong hand or the feeling that their parents protect them, that they can lean on a strong shoulder. However, this feeling can only be conveyed if the parents also have enough backbone. This is especially important during adolescence. Also, if parents regularly put their children on the adult level, there is a risk of emotional abuse.
Conclusion: Jellyfish parents
As in many other situations, moderation is the best solution in parenting issues. It favors the healthy development of children. Rashes in extreme directions – whether waxy or very strict – are harmful and can cause psychological problems.
Of course, a relaxed, needs-oriented upbringing full of spontaneity is desirable and dealing with one’s child at eye level is often appropriate. But sometimes parents have to set clear rules and also say no once in a while without justification. Ideally, they should strike a balance between rules that their children can follow and freedom that gives their children enough room to develop. Then nothing stands in the way of their developing into self-confident, empathetic and strong people.