What is your Parenting Style?
Nobody ever said parenting was going to be easy, but have you ever wondered what your parenting style is? It may help you to understand yourself, your child, and your relationship with them a bit better.
Parenting, gosh! It can be such a loaded word. If only there was a fail-proof manual and an instruction book that could be applied to every parent and every child, but there isn’t. There is no perfect parent and no exact way to parent. Take one family where children are being raised the same, yet there can be a million outcomes and alternatives to each child.
Many couples differ on the ‘what’ is the best way to raise their kids and are often surprised at how strongly they feel about the matter as well. With different personalities, characters, likes and dislikes, each child is completely different and therefore different to parent. All of this results in a mash of different opinions and outcomes. There is no ‘right way’ or ‘only way’, but, as parents, we simply aspire to do a good job, communicate, and learn.
Parenting styles are important and beneficial to understand for several reasons. One crucial aspect is that it is highly probable that your style differs with that of your partners. It becomes easier to align when you understand each other, and the styles associated. At the end of the day, we want to raise great kids and if knowing the most effective way to do so helps, then, as parents, it’s a goal we should all strive towards.
What are parenting styles?
Today, there are 4 common parenting styles. In 1960, a developmental psychologist, Diana Baumrind, based her studies and understanding on how parents raise their children and she formulated 3 main practices. Maccoby and Martin then also contributed by refining the model in the 1980s.
Baumrind noticed that pre-schoolers exhibited distinctly different types of behaviour. Each type of behaviour was highly correlated to a specific kind of parenting. Although Diana Baumrind was the first to develop the understanding of parenting styles, Maccoby and Martin in 1983, expanded her original 3-parenting-styles model into a 4-style parenting model. They expanded Baumrind’s permissive parenting style into two different types: permissive style, also known as indulgent parenting style and neglectful parenting, also known as uninvolved parenting style.
The four types of parenting styles are:
Authoritarian or Disciplinarian
Permissive or Indulgent
Neglectful or Uninvolved
Authoritative parenting style
This style is recommended by psychologists and is said to be what all parents should strive for. It’s a parents-know-best approach that emphasizes obedience while showing love and reassurance. Authoritative parents emphasize setting high standards, being nurturing and responsive, and showing respect for children as independent, rational beings. The authoritative parent expects maturity and cooperation and offers children lots of emotional support.
Traits of an authoritative Parent:
- Give their children the opportunity to discuss house rules often
- Prefer to empower their kids, rather than intimidate or befriend them
- Place a high importance on fairness and respect
- Emphasize well-roundedness in their children
- Allow their kids to fail, but provide support and guidance if asked
This approach to raising children combines warmth, sensitivity, and setting of limits and boundaries, but still believing in discipline. Parents use open and positive reinforcement and reasoning to guide children. They avoid resorting to threats and harsh punishments.
Children raised by authoritative parents are more likely to become independent, self-reliant, socially accepted, academically successful, and well-behaved. They are well-rounded, feel respected and valued. They are less likely to report depression and anxiety, and less likely to engage in antisocial behaviour like delinquency and drug use. Study after study has shown that this type of positive discipline has shown to produce resilient, confident, respectful, good leadership qualities and happy children. Research suggests that having at least one authoritative parent can make a big difference.
Authoritarian or disciplinarian Style
The authoritarian parenting style is considered overly strict parenting. It insists on absolute obedience and enforces good behaviour through psychological control: threats, shaming, and other punishment. It’s a parenting style associated with less parental warmth and responsiveness and instead more military obedience and rule-following.
Traits of an authoritarian parenting style:
- Tend to have an extensive list of rules they expect their children to follow
- Take a “children should be seen and not heard” approach
- Give their children chores starting at a young age
- Are highly focused on their children’s safety
- Give firm consequences when rules are broken
- Sometimes use threats or punishments to keep kids inline
This style hinders children’s health outcomes, especially in stressful environments. There is also evidence that authoritarianism can be harmful, it appears to make children’s behaviour problems worse. But it is not all bad, they tend to have good behaviour, they understand safety, and are often goal-driven. These pros often come with the cons of being socially and emotionally withdrawn; they often become rebellious and often more insecure and harder on themselves if they don’t achieve.
Permissive or indulgent parenting style
Permissive parents set very few rules and boundaries and they are reluctant to enforce rules. These indulgent parents are warm and indulgent, but they do not like to say no or disappoint their children. These parents are lots of fun to have around and typically grant unlimited access to everything fun.
Traits of a permissive parenting style:
- Give few or no rules
- Prefer to be a friend to their child, rather than an authority figure
- Consider their child’s opinion in large decisions
- Emphasizes freedom over responsibilities
- Allow for natural rather than imposed consequences
- Aren’t overly concerned about safety, seeing risky situations as learning opportunities
As permissive parents allow children to have more freedom, they tend to have more self-assurance, creativity and are often adventurous. But research shows that children of permissive parents tend to have the worst outcomes. They tend to struggle to follow the rules, have little to no self-control and possess egocentric tendencies. They tend to have riskier behaviour and are more rebellious. Some studies have demonstrated that children who are raised by permissive parents are more prone to anxiety and depression, as these children are encouraged to keep their problems to themselves. Children raised by permissive parents often encounter more problems in relationships and social interactions.
Neglectful or uninvolved parenting style
Neglectful parents do not set firm boundaries or high standards. They tend to be indifferent to their children’s needs and uninvolved in their lives. Essentially, neglectful parents ignore their children, who must raise themselves. They don’t set rules or expectations, but they also don’t provide guidance when needed. In extreme cases, a child’s welfare can suffer from this parental neglect. These uninvolved parents may have mental health concerns themselves such as depression, or physical abuse, or child neglect when they were kids.
Traits of a neglectful parenting style:
- Focuses on their own problems and desires
- They lack emotional attachments
- Lack of interest in child’s activities
- No set rules or expectation for good behaviour
Children with neglectful, uninvolved parents are more impulsive and struggle to regulate emotions, but they do tend to learn self-reliance and how to take care of their basic needs at an early age. Research shows these children encounter more behavioural and addiction problems. Another major disadvantage of uninvolved parenting is that these children don’t develop an emotional connection with their uninvolved parent. A lack of affection and attention at a young age can, and often will, lead to low self-esteem or emotional neediness in other relationships. Having an uninvolved parent will often affect a child’s social skills.
Which parenting style are you?
You need to assess your parenting style, take a quiz, find out where you and your partner fit into these and decide if you should make any changes to parent your children even better than you are. At the end of the day, raising great kids should always be our hope and desire. If you can become even better, why not?
What is the best approach?
From decades of studies, research shows that authoritative parenting is consistently linked to the best outcomes in kids. Authoritative parenting is considered the best parenting style by psychologists, but what counts is you and your children. If you are finding raising your children a struggle, either with your kids or your partner, seek the counsel of a professional. A counsellor will be able to see what changes your family should take and guide you in the right direction.
4 Sub-types of parenting styles linked to the above parenting styles:
Of course, plenty of parenting style subtypes exist, but they all fall into the four major categories above. Here are some other parenting styles that moms and dads need to know.
Free-range parents allow their children the independence of being less supervised or unsupervised in public. For a long time, parents who practice this style were considered neglectful, and many thought they endangered their children due to lack of supervision. In fact, some individuals faced trouble with the law after allowing their young children independence in public. But, more recently (and after much debate) states like Utah have passed laws in favour of the hands-off parenting style. Proponents say it can instil amazing qualities like self-sufficiency and resilience.
If you’re an overprotective parent who feels the need to control most aspects of your child’s life, you likely fit the bill of a helicopter parent. Helicopter parents constantly intervene in their kid’s life, and they obsess about successes or failures (specifically, they want to protect their children from failure). The risk-assessing tendencies of helicopter parents are often driven by fear and anxiety that can hinder a child’s ability to learn integral life skills, confidence, and self-sufficiency.
Snowplough parents (also known as lawnmower or bulldozer parents) are easily willing to drop everything to fulfil their child’s wants and demands, no matter how small. They essentially “plough down” anything standing in their child’s way. Lawnmower parents often have good intentions and don’t want their children to experience struggle. However, these habits don’t provide a foundation for long-term happiness, and they can strengthen a child’s anxiety of failure.
One of the more balanced methods of parenting, the lighthouse approach, was coined by paediatrician and author Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg. He said in his book, Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love With Expectations and Protection With Trust, “We should be like lighthouses for our children. Stable beacons of light on the shoreline from which they can measure themselves against. Role models. We should look down at the rocks and make sure they do not crash against them. We should look into the water and prepare them to ride the waves, and we should trust in their capacity to learn to do so.” This means finding the perfect balance when loving, protecting, communicating, and nurturing your child.