Anyone who has had to or is currently raising a child will not deny that parenting is challenging. Likewise, the type of parent we are and our parenting style says a lot about the relationship we have with our children. By determining what type of parent we are will help determine what we need to work on to become a better parent and provide us with vital information that will give us more confidence in dealing with our children.
In the mid-1960s, renowned clinical and developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind determined that there were three different types of parenting styles grouped into the following categories: Authoritarian, Authoritative and Permissive. In 1983, Maccoby & Martin included a fourth category: Uninvolved/ Neglectful. Today, these same categories still exist.
Which type of parent or parenting style do you think you fall under?
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“It’s my way or the highway!”; “Because I said so!”
Authoritarian parents are typically described as strict parents. They are the most demanding of parents. They set rules and children are met with punishment if they disobey. Children are not usually given the reasons for the rules and there is little room for any compromise. Children brought up by authoritarian parents often become hostile or aggressive because they tend to focus more on the anger they have for their parents for the punishment they receive rather than on learning how to make decisions and solve problems. They may also develop self-esteem problems. Authoritarian parenting is an extremely strict form of parenting that expects a child to adhere to rules and regulations set out by the parents with little or no input and communication from the child.
“Let’s talk about it.”; “What do you think?”
Authoritative parents are characterized by their understanding and support. These qualities create a healthy environment that allows children to thrive. Authoritative parents also have rules that children are expected to follow. However, they allow some exceptions to the rule. They often tell children the reasons for the rules and they are more willing to consider a child’s feelings when setting limits. Authoritative parents tend to use positive consequences, such as reward systems and praise, to reinforce good behavior instead of punishment.
Children raised with authoritative parents tend to be happy and successful. They are often good at making decisions and evaluating safety risks on their own. They often grow up to be responsible adults who feel comfortable expressing their opinions. Authoritative Parenting is one that communicates in a warm, accepting and nurturing manner, while maintaining firm expectations and restrictions on their children’s behavior.
Permissive or Indulgent
“Kids will be kids.”; “I don’t want to force him/her.”
Permissive or Indulgent parents, are extremely lenient. These parents avoid confrontation at all costs. While these parents are very nurturing, there are no set boundaries for their children so their children don’t learn important rules. Permissive parents don’t offer much discipline and may only step in when there is a serious problem. Permissive parents tend to take a more friendly role than a parental role. They may encourage their children to talk with them about their problems but do not caution against bad behavior. Children who grow up with permissive parents tend to struggle academically. They may exhibit behavioral problems because they are not able to appreciate authority and rules. They often have low self-esteem and even project sadness.
Permissive Parenting is an extremely relaxed approach where parents are generally warm, nurturing and affectionate. However, they are overly accepting of their children’s behavior, whether good or bad.
Uninvolved or Neglectful
Neglectful parents are the most dangerous of all. As the name suggests, these parents neglect their children’s basic needs and generally expect children to raise themselves. They are not there for their children emotionally or physically. Sometimes this is due to a mental health issue of the parent or substance abuse problems. They may also lack knowledge about parenting and child development or may feel overwhelmed by life’s other problems. There tend to be few, if any, rules or expectations. Children may not receive any nurturing or guidance and do not receive much needed parental attention. Children of Uninvolved parents tend to lack self-esteem and they perform poorly academically. They also exhibit frequent behavior problems and are not very happy individuals.
Uninvolved Parenting, as the name implies, is the total detachment and emotional non-involvement of a parent in his/her child’s life. There is little, if any expression of love and affection in Neglectful Parenting.
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As a new and young parent in the mid-‘80s, I raised my first born son and daughter as an authoritarian parent, with close to what could be considered an “iron fist.” I was a perfectionist and a stickler for rules, and demanded complete submission of my children. If they did not tow the line, or if they tried to deviate from my rules, it was met with punishment. In my desire to instill good manners and right conduct in my young children, I left little or no room for mistakes. The result was disastrous. My son, a sensitive and very compliant child, was showing signs of over-dependency and his decisions were made based on “what mama says.” My daughter, on the other hand, a feisty and strong-willed child, was becoming defiant and pushy. I would bear the brunt of her anger for many years to come.
When my next two children came in the ‘90s, I learned from my mistakes and made a conscious effort to be more “relaxed” in my parenting style. good behavior was affirmed and punishment was limited to a minimum with a discussion of the reasons behind the punishment. We learned how to communicate better, listened and gave importance to their opinions. There was certainly a stark contrast in the way these two sets of children were brought up, and I still cringe when I recall how terrible a parent I must have been to the first two. But parenting is a work in progress, and getting it right does not come overnight.
When I see my children today, all young adults in their early 20s and 30s, I am only thankful that I was given a chance to make things right and was able to recognize that a change in the type of parent I was, was necessary. My two eldest children still chide me about how tough I was with them and how easy it was for their younger two siblings, but we can laugh about my “Hitler” days. The best consolation is seeing that they have grown up to be pretty well adjusted, good-mannered and morally upright individuals.
Most parents have only the best intentions for their children. What is important is that they are willing to make the necessary adjustments when mistakes are committed and that there is a continuous and conscious effort on their part to strive to be the best parent they can possibly be, raising their children in a loving, caring and positive environment built on mutual trust and respect.