Updated: Feb 17
Are you a disciplinarian or a permissive parent? These days there is a psychological explanation for all types of human interaction and behaviours, this includes the type of parenting style we adopt when raising our kids. Your parenting style can affect everything from how much your child weighs to how they feel about themselves. It's widely believed that how we choose to parent our kids will influence them for the rest of their lives. According to the experts, there are 4 types of parenting styles that exist:
authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent and uninvolved.
As parents, most of us are consciously aware of how we approach parenting.
I can’t talk about parenting styles without mentioning Diana Baumrind, she was a developmental psychologist known for her research on parenting styles. Through her work, she identified 3 styles of parenting and it was later configured by Maccoby and Martin to the 4 styles we classify them as today, but enough with the history lesson.
Each style takes a different approach to raising children and can be identified by a number of different characteristics.
This style of parenting resonates with many of the parents in our group and it’s an approach many have come to adopt. They typically keep a close eye on their children and provide them with plenty of support but also have firm boundaries in place, they tend to grant tolerable freedom within those boundaries. They explain the reasons behind enforced rules and give consequences, but take the child's opinions into consideration. This is an assertive approach and these parents validate their children's feelings, while also making it clear that the adults are ultimately in charge. Authoritative parents are incredibly caring and very much involved, but not overly controlling.
Many of us who were raised in the 80s and 90s will know this style of parenting all too well. My mum would often say, “children should be seen and not heard” Or “As long as you live under my roof, you’ll do as I say!” Another thing she used to say was “Because I said so!” - ah the good old days. My dad often joked about her approach and used to say things like, “You’d best listen to Gaddafi”, he always knew how to break the ice. Usually, the authoritarian parent is not interested in negotiating if the child questions a decision and the focus would be on obedience. These parents invest time and energy in preventing behavioural problems before they start. They also use discipline techniques to reinforce good behaviour, like give praise and offer rewards. We often got what we wanted as long you toed the line.
"With dedication and commitment, we can all learn to be better at parenting. You can maintain a positive relationship with your child while still establishing your authority in a healthy and respectful manner."
This group of parents is usually very easy going. They may set rules, but rarely enforce them and don’t generally give out consequences. They frequently respond to their children's wishes, even when they are unreasonable. They may feel their child will learn best with very little interference. They usually adopt an attitude of "kids will be kids."
This probably doesn’t require much explanation, but this style of parenting typically means that the parent isn’t taking enough of an interest in the child. They don’t engage in conversation or ask about school or may not even know where the children may be at times, but it’s not always intentional. In severe cases, it could borderline neglect and in many instances, children may not receive the guidance and nurturing from the parent that they need.
There’s no special handbook for parenting, we’re all learning as we go along. If you are giving any thought to your style of parenting, it means that you care, there may be some things you’d like to change about your approach, I know I do - so don't despair if there are times when you tend to be permissive and other times perhaps more authoritative. What’s clear based on what psychologists say is that children of authoritative parents have better social skills and more successful relationships with their peers during childhood, adolescence and later adulthood. With dedication and commitment, we can all learn to be better at parenting. You can maintain a positive relationship with your child while still establishing your authority in a healthy and respectful manner.
Now for the fun part, here’s a little quiz I’ve found to help you identify the type of parenting style you might have. You have to be completely honest with yourself, otherwise the result won’t reflect the type of parent you are, but it’s all part of the fun.
There are 25 questions and it will only take a few minutes to complete. Why not take it with your partner, you may learn something about them you didn’t know before!
Let us know about your parenting style. What do you think is the best approach?