Parenting Styles – You get out what you put in.

I was thinking earlier today about the different ways parents raise their children and how different kids respond to each of those styles. It can be confusing because one child can really blossom under the guidance of his/her parents while another (in the same household) really struggles – creating a battle royal for all involved. It can drive both the parent and the child insane. It shows that we, as parents, have to have some flexibility in how we approach our children and need not to have a cookie cutter approach to parenting – it needs to be more individualized.

Here is a recap of the different parenting styles:

  1. Authoritarian Parenting
    In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow the strict rules established by the parents. Failure to follow such rules usually results in punishment. Authoritarian parents fail to explain the reasoning behind these rules. If asked to explain, the parent might simply reply, “Because I said so.” These parents have high demands, but are not responsive to their children. According to Diana Baumrind, these parents “are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation” (1991). This parenting style is often portayed as abusive, but this is definitely not always the case. Consider the movie Footloose (either the 1984 or 2011 versions) – the father (reverend) laid down the household rules and expected his daughter to follow them without question. He was the head of the household and did not tolerate disobedience.
  1. Authoritative Parenting
    Like authoritarian parents, those with an authoritative parenting style establish rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow. However, this parenting style is much more democratic. Authoritative parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions. When children fail to meet the expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing. Baumrind suggests that these parents “monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative” (1991). This parenting style is typically portrayed most positively in TV and movies. An example might be the movie Easy A (2010), the main character has an open dialogue with her parents. She and her brother are free to express their thoughts and feelings, but the parents continue to offer guidance and support.
  1. Permissive Parenting
    Permissive parents, sometimes referred to as indulgent parents, have very few demands to make of their children. These parents rarely discipline their children because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control. According to Baumrind, permissive parents “are more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation” (1991). Permissive parents are generally nurturing and communicative with their children, often taking on the status of a friend more than that of a parent. Frequently these parents were raised in an Authoritarian household themselves and swung to more Permissive parenting as a reaction to their own parents. In the media, these parents are portrayed as being desperate to be their child’s friend at all costs. Consider the movie Mean Girls (2004). The main mean girl, Regina’s, mother wants to be part of her inner circle. She wants in on the latest styles and gossip and never addresses her daughter’s behavior. Regina is free to do whatever she wants to whomever she wants.
  1. Uninvolved Parenting
    An uninvolved parenting style is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication. While these parents fulfill the child’s basic needs, they are generally detached from their child’s life. In extreme cases, these parents may even reject or neglect the needs of their children. A prime example might be the movie Matilda (1996). In the movie, Matilda’s parents provide a roof over her head, clothes to wear and food to eat, but they are completely disinterested in her to the point that they don’t even think to enroll her in school. She is a non-entity in their world and they happily sign her over when her teacher wants to adopt her.

Now, you may be wondering what happens to kids who are raised in these different parenting styles? Well, research has shown:

  • Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but they rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.
  • Authoritative parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable and successful (Maccoby, 1992). Remember this is the one that it typically portrayed most positively!
  • Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.
  • Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across all life domains. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.

What style of parenting did your parents use when you were young? If I had to guess based on memory, my mom was a mixture of Authoritative and Permissive (depending on the day and the issue). For instance, school was never given a pass (it was ALWAYS important), but I sometimes got away with more than I should in the behavior department – I was a smart ass. Are you planning on (or do you already) parent your child(ren) in the same style your parent used? I think we are a little less Permissive than my mom was, but there are two of us and she was a single parent. Do you think it is possible to raise kids with different parenting styles depending on their personalities or are there variations within the styles that are possible?

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