by Rachelle Tannenbaum
What’s your parenting style? Although all parents have a style, many have never really sat down to think about that style. But assessing your style can be a valuable exercise, as you examine your own assumptions about your children and your goals for their development. In this issue of the ezine, we’ll explore this topic in more depth.
If you’d like to learn more about this topic, we have a number of courses that may be of interest to you. Those courses include:
- FON 324: Managing Sibling Rivalry
- FON 312: Controlling Your Child’s Behavior
- FON 305: Parenting the Teenager
- FON 337: Managing Anger and Conflict at Home and Work
Details about this and our other courses may be found by going to our courses page. And remember, we can bring our courses or design custom programs for your school or organization. We look forward to working with you!
WHAT’S YOUR PARENTING STYLE?
by Rachelle Tannenbaum
What is parenting style?
When psychologists talk about “parenting style,” they are not referring to specific rules such as whether or not kids have a set bedtime. Instead, they are referring to a broad pattern of interactions and dynamics within the parent-child relationship. The most well-known typology of parenting styles was developed by a researcher named Diana Baumrind. She defines parenting style based on two elements of parenting:
- Parental responsiveness has to do with the degree to which parents encourage their children to act as individuals and to self-regulate their own behavior, and the extent to which parents foster an atmosphere of emotional warmth within the family.
- Parental demandingness refers to the degree to which parents supervise their children, regulate their behavior, and place responsibility on them.
Combining these two dimensions yields four possible parenting styles:
- Permissive parents are very responsive, but not demanding. They allow their children a great deal of freedom, more than is developmentally appropriate. They often seem to be striving to be the child’s friend rather than a disciplinary figure. Although many children might long for such a free and easy lifestyle, in reality the outcomes are usually not so good. Children may be temporarily happy, but they do not learn to handle responsibility well, which can lead to academic difficulties. They are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors because there is no authority figure to stop them. Children of permissive parents often long for a parent who will act as a parent, not as a friend.
- Neglectful parents are neither responsive nor demanding. Whereas the permissive parent conveys the impression that “I give you all this freedom because I love you and want you to be happy,” the neglectful parent conveys the impression that “I can’t be bothered to worry about what you are doing.” As one might imagine, of all the parenting styles this one is associated with the poorest outcomes in children.
- Authoritarian parents are highly demanding and directive, but not responsive. They expect orders to be followed without question. Children from such families often do well in school, but are more likely to suffer from depression or low self-esteem. They may also be prone to rebel. After all, when rules seem to be handed arbitrarily, then what is the reason for following them?
- Authoritative parents are both demanding and responsive. They set clear standards for conduct, but focus their disciplinary efforts on helping children become more self-regulated so as to reduce the need for external discipline. Children do not get to dictate rules, but they do get to understand the rationale behind those rules. For that reason, children are more apt to follow their family’s rules even when parents are not around. Children are also more likely to do well in school, because they have learned to take responsibility for their own learning.
Cultivating a more authoritative style
As a general rule, the authoritative parenting style is generally associated with the most positive social, emotional, and academic outcomes in children. So as a parent, what can you do to develop or strengthen this parenting style in yourself? On the next page, we'll explore some suggestions that may be of use to you.
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