How you choose to parent your child will impact their overall development and who they become in the future. That, and your parenting style also says a lot about you, your background and how you and your partner operate. It will teach your son or daughter how you see the world,
However, be warned that there’s a fine line between parenting and overparenting. As strange as it sounds, there is such a thing. Being too overbearing, demanding or overprotective will cripple your child and catapult them into the world without a full understanding or solid foundation of how to react. How to cope. This, in turn, can cause catastrophic damage to your child’s sense of identity and mental health.
Thus, it’s essential to recognize the pros and cons and completely understand each parenting style before you proceed with one of them. The goal of parenting is to influence your child to grow up healthy, well-rounded and well-adjusted. After all, before the schooling years, your parenting is the first major influence your son or daughter will have in their life. Whatever you teach, and the lessons they learn will be taken outside and displayed wherever your child goes.
Because I said so! It’s my way or the highway! Children should be seen and not heard! All three of these phrases are pretty typical within the authoritarian parenting style. It’s the idea that orders will be obeyed without question. Authoritarian parents are typically very dominating and utilize a great deal of control when raising their child. Mistakes are punished, and no explanation is given. There’s a strong focus on obedience, and not discipline. Making the child feel miserable about their error, and not teaching them how to make better choices. As a result, children suffer from a severe lack of understanding, and don’t acquire the vital social or communication skills needed to make their way through the world. Additionally, your child is more apt to struggle through self-esteem issues because they don’t feel valued.
This parenting style breeds more of the same as the children raised within this system move on in their adulthood. As much as they may want something different, it’s all they know. Feeling rejected, unsupported and fearful are daily realities. Hostility and aggressive commonly develop as a way to protect themselves. It’s a vicious cycle that is not easily broken.
Couples or individuals who model themselves after this parenting style have a more nurturing and supportive approach. Yet, at the same time, they have firm limits in place for the betterment of their children. Authoritative parents listen to what their child has to say, and seek to understand things from their viewpoint. When it comes to dealing with misbehavior, parents teach through discipline, disappointment and consequences more than actual punishment.
This parenting style expects more of children, but provides warmth, feedback and support. Authoritative parents focus on encouraging independence, self-control and developing well-rounded adults. Children raised within this system of thought typically emerge as friendly, energetic, cheerful and self-reliant. They are also more apt to be curious and achievement-oriented.
Also known as the “indulgent” parenting style, permissive parents are looser on rules and tend to go with “kids will be kids.” There is a lot of affection and interaction, but few restrictions or instructions on what’s appropriate behavior and what. Very little focus on correcting right and wrong. Rules exist, but never enforced. Rather, permissive parents are more concerned with gaining their children’s friendship than asserting parental authority. The expectation is that children learn best without inference. While this leads to higher levels of creativity, children raised inside this parenting style gain little to no self-control, and develop a strong sense of entitlement. There’s no true sense of structure or instruction to help them.
As a result, children raised within a permissive parenting style tend to be more impulsive, rebellious and aggressive. Additionally, because of the lack of direction or instruction, they don’t form a direction for life and don’t live how to adequately take care of themselves as adults. Their social skills suffer, as well, which makes it difficult for them to develop healthy relationships.
Along those same lines is this next parenting style: the uninvolved parent. Also referred to as the “neglectful” parent, uninvolved parents don’t value interaction with their children. No homework help. No asking how their day was at school, no active sense of wanting to form a relationship. Uninvolved parents don’t care about who their children hang out with or where they are, and enforce even fewer rules than permissive parents. There’s little to no nurturing of the child’s needs, however basic, and no energy in guiding them. Instead, there’s the clear message that mom or dad is unavailable, unresponsive or — worse — rejecting.
While this isn’t always intentional, uninvolved parents allow other life’s stressors to overwhelm them and zap them of all their energy. They expect their children to raise themselves. More often than that, parents under this category were raised similarly and don’t know any other way to parent. Thus, children who develop under this parenting style tend to perform poorly in school, suffer from self-esteem issues and seek role models to meet their lacking needs. Sometimes, this includes entering into inappropriate and unhealthy relationships because they are desperate for attention.
Other Parenting Styles
The above are the four known major parenting styles. There are others that you’ve no doubt heard of as well. Two of them being: attachment parenting and helicopter parenting. Each have their own pros and cons where it comes to effectiveness. For instance, attachment parenting promotes gentle discipline and age-appropriate expectations, but has unrealistic demands for the parents as the child is held in close quarters at all times.
Helicopter parenting, on the other hand, is an example of the aforementioned overparenting. To prevent anything bad from happening, helicopter parents spend the majority of their time with their child and remove any and all items that could cause injury. While the amount of interaction isn’t entirely bad, it does present a Catch 22 when it comes to forming a relationship between child and parent. Some have argued that too much time spent isn’t healthy, and doesn’t allow the child time to freely approach the parent when needed. Others say that it limits the child’s development of independence.
What’s Your Parenting Style?
There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. However, there is such a thing as parenting your child appropriately. Finding that sweet spot between too little parenting and too much. As a parent, you have the enormous responsibility of guiding your son or daughter to the best of your abilities. To help shape them, encourage healthy behaviors, and prepare them for the day they will become an independent adult. So, don’t waste your time aiming for perfection and instead focus on parenting effectively. Avoid the obvious dangers of abuse, neglect and overindulgence. Rather, respect and love your child. Encourage their dreams and challenge them intellectually. Accept them no matter what.
Every family has their own way of operating. Deciding which parenting style fits you best will vary from family to family. Be sure to discuss in detail with your partner or spouse what works best for you, and follow through with it together.
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About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.
In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.
American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/act/resources/fact-sheets/parenting-styles.
“How Does Your Parenting Style Affect Your Kids?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201410/how-does-your-parenting-style-affect-your-kids.
Morin, Amy. “4 Types of Parenting Styles and Their Effects on Kids.” Verywell Family, Verywell Family, 12 July 2019, www.verywellfamily.com/types-of-parenting-styles-1095045.
“Parenting.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/parenting.