Parenting Styles: What type of Parent are you?

Oct 25

Parenting Styles: What type of Parent are you?

We have all witnessed it while standing in the park: watching another person’s child grabbing toys from a little girl, or pushing a baby in a sandbox and getting little or no response from his mother who sits on the park bench nearby chatting with her friends completely unaware that her child is spreading fear among the smaller toddlers in the playground. When the terror spree is over and the hour has arrived for her child to go home, the mother simply packs up her snacks, calls to her monster of a child and leaves without so much of a word of an apology to the quivering children that lay in the wake of her child’s path of destruction. “What type of parenting school has this mother attended,” you find yourself wondering. And how old will this child be when he winds up in his first juvenile institution? The worst case scenario is when that mother is a friend of yours and you just don’t know how to tell her that her child is a criminal waiting to happen and that she does not know the first thing about parenting.


Parenting styles vary and they are often the results of one’s culture and the way one has been parented herself. In the 1960’s developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study of pre-school aged children. Her study led her to develop a popular theory of parenting styles in which she identified three different parenting styles. Later (in the 1980’s) a fourth was added to her theory. These are the four parenting styles:


Authoritarian Parenting: Authoritarian parents establish strict rules that they expect to be followed without question. They do not explain their rules, and if children do not comply they are punished. According to Diana Baumrind these parents “are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation.”


Authoritative Parenting: Authoritative parents also establish rules that they expect to be followed. But unlike their Authoritarian counterparts, these parents are more democratic in their approach. They accept questions and when their children to not follow rules, rather than punishing they are more nurturing. According to Diana Baumrind their “disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive.”


Permissive Parenting: Permissive parents make few demands of their children. They would prefer to adopt the role of a friend rather than a parent. They rarely discipline their children and have low expectations of them.


Uninvolved Parenting: The uninvolved parent fulfills the child’s basic needs but otherwise remains generally detached from the child’s life. In extreme cases, this parent may even neglect the child.


Wondering which type of parent you are? You probably know just by reading the descriptions, but if you want some reassurance – take a test!


Of all the varied parenting styles, children of Authoritarian parents fare best in life. They are happy, well-adjusted, and self-assured. But the reality is most parents do not fit one category in every situation. Every kid is different and requires a distinct parenting style. Children change and at different points in their lives require different parenting tactics. It is difficult to claim that parenting is as easy as choosing one of four options. Parenting requires a deep sensitivity and understanding of a child’s needs. Most psychologists agree that parenting is really a balance between an individual’s parenting style and a child’s temperament.


But back to that park for a minute – so what do you do when you see your friend’s child pushing other children and his mother not reacting? Is it okay to discipline other people’s children?


According to Dr. Careton Kendrick, family therapist, in an article on MSNBC.COM about disciplining other people’s children, in the past there used to be a sense of community when it came to parenting. If someone else’s mother caught you doing something wrong she disciplined you, and your mother expected it. Now things are different. There is less of a sense of community – people don’t know each other as well. And people see their kids as extensions of themselves and they become insulted when they catch you disciplining their children. But according to Kendrick by depriving our children of the opportunity to receive feedback from other authority figures we are robbing them of the ability to interact positively with adults. Disciplining other people’s children should be allowed, if it’s done in a sensitive manner. The fact is parenting is not an simple undertaking… and we are all in this together.


So, you are sitting on that park bench and your friend’s kid is torturing the other children in the park, what do you say? How about, “The kids seem to be getting a bit wild, what do you think?”


The article on MSNBC.COM has other scenarios and solutions. Check it out.

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