What is Your Parenting Style?
Parents have different parenting styles; some are strict, others are easy going and some seem like they just let their kids run wild. Which of these styles is the “right” one? Well, to help you decide you have to think about what fits you as a parent, as a family and what fits your child’s temperament.
Baumrind established 3 basic parenting styles and studied their possible effects on children.
The Authoritarian Parent, also called strict is grounded in traditional ways of child raising. Parents expect immediate obedience from children in almost all behavior. Physical punishment like spanking is used as a way to obtain obedience and cooperation from children instead of negotiation. Parents usually have many nonnegotiable rules and often respond to their child’s question with “Because I said so!”
• Possible Effects of this style of parenting include children being less socially competent as parents generally tell the child what to do instead of thinking for herself. As a result, children are not encouraged to think critically but rather look to their parents for approval and solution. Miller‘s research has shown that this type of parenting doesn’t promote healthy feelings of self-worth since parents rely on intimidation and negative criticism as ways for gaining wanted behavior. Since physical punishment is an acceptable way of disciplining (in this parenting style), this parenting style may also damage a child’s self-esteem and encourage violence as a way to solve problems. These effects will most likely stay with your child onto adulthood. Nonetheless, it’s worth mentioning that researchers have found that aspects of authoritarian style in some ethnic cultures may be associated with more positive child outcomes than Baumrind expects.
The Permissive Parent, also called the indulgent or easy parent, doesn’t insist on rules and behavior. This parent doesn’t see herself as an authority figure but rather as a resource for her child to learn about the world and gain a sense of independence. Children are left to their own experiences and their consequences to guide them on how to act in the future. Parents are accepting of their children, do not require socially appropriate behavior from their children and they tend to avoid or ignore obnoxious behavior
• Possible effects are that children will not behave as socially appropriate. Baumrind also found that the least self-reliant, curious and self-controlled children are parented using this style. Children of easy parents may be more impulsive, and as teenagers more prone to engaging in misconduct and drug use.
The Neglectful Parent is also known as the uninvolved parent. The parents are low in warmth as well as in control, are usually not involved in their child’s life and do not set limits for their children. Neglectful parenting can also refer to dismissing a child’s emotions and opinions as well as being unsupportive of their child’s basic needs (food, housing and toiletries).
• Possible effects include children seeming mature beyond their years in an attempt to provide for themselves and halt depending on their parents. Children may also become emotionally withdrawn from social situations and view that other aspect’s of their parents’ lives are more important than they are. These attachments problems may very well impact relationships in adulthood as well as disruptive and delinquent patterns in the teenage years.
The Authoritative Parent
This approach combines the best of authoritarian and permissive approaches. It is a child centered approach that holds high expectations of the child’s maturity. Being an authoritative parents means fostering the development of your child’s independence but within reasonable limits. Parents participate in democratic verbal give and take as well as setting few clear rules. They are attentive of their child’s needs, expect age-appropriate behavior and aim at understanding their child’s feelings and teach them how to regulate them. Authoritative parents help their children solve problems, they typically resort more to setting limits and teaching but may resort to punishment in which case they will explain their motives for punishment. This is the most recommended style of parenting by child-rearing experts.
Possible effects according to Baumrind are children who are self-reliant, self-controlled, content and curios about learning and exploring their environment. Because children know what is expected of them when parents set few clear rules, they feel secure and safe to explore their world within those limits. This approach also encourages success in school life, higher self-esteem, a healthy sense of independence and a positive work attitude since it promotes independence, negotiation and positive communication between parent and child. This method also seems to have the most positive results during the teenage years since it grants them freedom and a sense of independence and expression while maintaining clear family rules. It also fosters a respectful relationship between parent and child by having positive communication, negotiation and involvement in family rules and decision-making.
I hope this helps you reflect on yourself and family and decide which parent you are and which one you would like to be.
Jailan Heidar is an Egyptian parent educator currently living in The Netherlands. She has a MSc. in Child and Family Studies from Leiden University. She specializes in providing parenting support to parents of children from 0-5 years through her website EarlyYearsParenting.