You may not even be aware that there are different parenting styles.
I certainly hadn’t thought about it much while my daughter was a baby.
It’s when your kids start to be mobile, when they are no longer compliant little bundles of swaddling that you suddenly realize you have expectations on how your child will behave and how you will enforce that…or not.
I surprised myself by being a ‘Screecher’. I’d barely raised my voice in anger my entire adult life, yet here I was, screeching at a toddler.
Not the way I wanted to parent. So I changed.
Here are the notes I gathered (simplified – you don’t need a huge bundle of info to sift through). In the past 40 years or so, psychologists have identified four main parenting styles.
The Four Parenting Styles
There are times when we move between these styles.
Naturally, it’s a great idea to be consistent in your parenting, but there are times when you just have to be authoritarian – “This behavior must stop NOW!” – and times when you can be uninvolved – “Your sister took your basket ball? Sort it out yourself I’m cooking dinner!”
The aim is to be one type (choose authoritative!!!) as your overall style.
Authoritarian Parenting or Because-I-Said-So Parenting
This type of parent sets rules and is consistent in enforcing consequences or punishment if the rules aren’t followed.
Not a bad thing, however there is no explanation about why the rules are there, how they work, or how it helps if they are followed.
They don’t talk to their kids about it and it’s hard to follow rules if you don’t fully understand what they are.
Authoritarian parents expect complete compliance and obedience.
Authoritative Parenting or Stop-And-Listen Parenting
This is similar to the Authoritarian Parent described above in that rules and standards of behavior are set out. The difference is that an Authoritative Parent responds to questions, gives explanations and is willing to bend if it makes sense.
These parents are more interested in teaching their kids than controlling them.
They are loving, nurturing parents who want their kids to learn self control and self discipline.
Permissive Parenting or the Darling-Would-You-Stop? Style of Parent
Permissive parents don’t expect their children to be able to behave. They seem to think kids aren’t capable of any maturity or self control and so don’t do much to discipline or teach their children.
They see themselves as their child’s friend and avoid conflict.
They are loving, indulgent and very attentive.
Uninvolved Parenting or the Whatever Style of Parent
Uninvolved Parents make very few demands on their kids. They may provide adequate food and shelter, but otherwise these parents don’t really talk to their kids, give them attention or guidance.
Sometimes this is obvious and shows itself as real neglect; with others it may be more subtle – lovely house, heaps of toys, lots of activities, but no emotional or physical support.
The Impact of Parenting Styles
To help you decide how to be a good parent, here’s the breakdown on what happens to kids in the long term with each of these parenting styles:
Authoritative Parenting: these kids seem to have good self esteem, confidence and contentment.
Permissive Parenting: these kids are often in trouble at school as they just don’t see that they have to behave the way everyone else does. They often struggle with school work and to keep friends.
Uninvolved Parenting: these kids have no idea how to behave so are often aggressive and angry. They may still have tantrums well into later childhood, have low self esteem and find it difficult to fit it.
Why So Many Parenting Styles?
I started this post with the intention of being unemotional, you know, just report the facts. But as a parent, how can I?
Yes, the descriptions are pretty biased and it’s obvious which parenting style has the best impact on child development, and yet…the other three still exist.
Why is that?
Well, of course, our lives are all different. We have different backgrounds, different cultures. We may have only one child or a dozen.
We may be financially secure or really struggling. We may be in a quiet solid community, or in the midst of major conflict.
So many things can impact on our lives and parenting styles.
If you can, my advice is to choose most often to love and guide your kids actively and attentively.
You’ve probably heard of another parenting style lately called Helicopter Parenting.
Helicopter parents are those who hover around their kids watching out for ways to make life easier and smoother. They do all they can to shield their child from conflict, unhappiness and failure.
While it certainly has some positives, I think it’s a strange mix of Authoritarian and Permissive parenting styles – controlling the child’s every moment while indulging their every need.
Toxic Parents don’t really come under parenting style as it has nothing to do with parenting but it should be mentioned anyway.
Toxic parents are people who abuse their children either physically or verbally to such an extent that it has a lasting effect on their kids.
Be responsible for your behavior.
It’s never a failure to seek help if you don’t know how to look after your kids in a loving and nurturing way. If you’re struggling, ask for help. Start with your GP or ring the counseling services in the front of your local phone book.
I have a friend who recently left her abusive husband. We had all remarked on the resilience of kids and how her children seemed to have come out of it unscathed.
That is, until her 9 year old visited the dentist and he said the teeth were so badly ground down they could have been those of a 50 year old. Thank goodness she got out of the relationship when she did!