Parenting Styles- Where do you see yourself?
I would like to talk about parenting or child-rearing styles. Go to the Parenting section at Barnes and Noble and you will find an amazing array of books. I’m overwhelmed and I’m a parenting coach! There are cute names and scientific terms and so many theories and opinions! Not with the intention of minimizing anyone’s work, I want to simplify things for you here. Back in the sixties, when psychologist Diana Baumrind researched parenting styles, based on a study of over 100 preschool-age children, she identified three basic parenting styles. Those three basic styles have remained and one more has been added. As you read my descriptors, see where you find yourself in agreement the most.
The first, Authoritarian, is seen as strict and controlling. Children aren’t given an explanation of their governing rules but absolute compliance is expected. Parents with this style are generally clear in their expectations and rules of behavior. There are some cultures that are supportive of this obedience-driven, “Because I said so” style of parenting. Children raised with this parenting style may show signs of unhappiness or even anxiety but despite that, may do well in school. They may avoid harmful activities such as drugs, alcohol abuse, gangs or promiscuity until they leave the family home. However, because they have not learned to make their own decisions, they won’t know how to make good choices when they are responsible for themselves.
The next, Permissive, also called Indulgent parenting, is pretty much the opposite of Authoritarian. Where authoritarian parents attempt to control all aspects of their child, the permissive parent swings the other direction and allows their child to make decisions that they may not be ready to make. These parents may “give in” or act more like a buddy than a parent. While permissive parents tend to be warm and loving, because they don’t have high expectations for their child’s behavior, the child doesn’t have opportunities to learn how to deal with frustrations and other facts of life.
The newest, sadly, is a Neglectful parenting style. This is also sometimes called detached or indifferent. Those adjectives are enough to describe this category. Sometimes this occurs due to an accident or major life trauma or addictions that take priority over rearing their child. Children that are neglected (I am not referring to the legal definition. That is entirely different.) score the lowest in every domain of development. They also show the most signs of emotional, academic and social difficulties.
Finally, the most effective and successful style of child-rearing is Authoritative. As I write this, I am confident that the majority of readers will identify the most with this parenting style. This style reflects a warm, responsive, attentive and sensitive parent, aware of their child’s needs. The responsibilities and demands placed on the child are a match with the readiness of the child. It is also referred to as balanced parenting. A balanced parent explains the rules/decisions/boundaries, provides consistency and holds high, but appropriate expectations of their child. There are clear consequences and the child is raised to take responsibility for their behaviors and actions.
The truth is that most of us will wander into the permissive or authoritarian style on occasion. Being mom or dad is hard work! Many parents use their own parents as role models and emulate or eliminate their practices and parenting style. For most, that is a good start. Trust that your family will always reflect your core values and your ideals. I want to encourage you to take a moment right now and acknowledge and honor yourself for your strengths as a parent. And, if there are a few actions or reactions you would like to adjust/change in your parenting, spend some time considering that possibility, also. What would it look like? How would it feel to you and your child?
Thank you for being open to your possibilities!