Determining who falls under certain categories when it comes to parenting styles has been an ongoing debate in psychology for decades. If I were to take a survey and ask what kind of parenting styles you think best describes your personal child rearing I would guess I would have as many answers as I do participants. Everyone wants to think they are doing a good job in bringing up their kids and all the troubles that are broadcasted over the news about bad parents is someone else’s problem.
We are fascinated by watching shows like “Super Nanny” that shows a family that looks as if they have it all. They have a nice big house, great looking cars in the driveway, and money to spend on the luxuries of life. The one thing that these parents do not have but are willing to trade it all in for are well behaved and respectful kids. We can see that producing great kids is not directly tied to our bank accounts but there will always be people who say if they only had more than they can do more with their kids. A vacation to Disney World is not a substitute to taking the kids to the park every once and a while. A great vacation around the world does not replace reading to our kids before they go to sleep. So if money is not the issue and the key to producing great kids then what are? Let’s look to a professional and see what she has to say.
Diana Blumberg Baumrind a Developmental psychologist born in August 1927 had some great thoughts on this issue. She came up with the 4 fundamental different styles of parenting Authoritative, Authoritarian, Indulgent, and Neglectful. By understanding where we stand as of today in our parenting styles we can make the adjustments that will benefit our children and soon see the fruit of our labor. In the 4 fundamental styles the lines that divide each of the categories are not easily definable so each style can and will bleed into the others.
Authoritative parenting aka: Balanced parents Results: “Children whose parents are authoritative are often cheerful, self-controlled, self-reliant, and achievement -oriented; they maintain friendly relations with peers, cooperate with adults, and cope well with stress.” Santrock, J.W. (2007)
The authoritative parent is known for their ability to define what is expected from their child and yet still give them the freedom to confidently make their own decisions. Rules and regulations are big part of the household but each rule is carefully thought out with the child’s individual needs as the center. The ability to explain the rules, expectations of a child, and reasons for disciplining is part of the foundation to the great communication skills authoritative parent posses.
Authoritarian parenting aka: Strict parents Results: “Children of authoritarian parents are often unhappy, fearful, and anxious about comparing themselves with others; they often tend to fail to initiate activity and have weak communication skills.” Santrock, J.W. (2007)
Authoritarian parents may believe they fall under the category of Authoritative Parenting but lack the understanding that a child’s feeling needs to be taken into account. Authoritarian parents inflict their authority upon a child and expect the child to conform to the will of the parent. The final word of the parent is what rules the household without the input of any of the children who live under the same roof.
Indulgent parenting aka: lenient parents Results: “Children never learn to control their own behavior and always expect to get their way.” Santrock, J.W. (2007)
Indulgent parents like to have a hands-on approach when it pertains to parenting. The center of all the interaction between a child and that of an indulgent parent is to make sure not to hurt the feeling of a child. Discipline falls under the category of hurting the feelings of children so the disciplinary process is omitted. Children are rewarded for their abrupt and self-centered actions with the attentions of their indulgent parents. The children in these types of homes are characterized as spoiled and expect the world to respond to whenever they call. These children in a perfect scenario display independence and more secure with their emotions.
Neglectful parenting aka: Hands-off parents Results: “Children whose parents are neglectful develop the sense that other aspects of the parents’ lives are more important than they are.” Santrock, J.W. (2007)
Neglectful parents are detached from any involvement in their child’s life. The center of the relationship between a child and the neglectful parent is the priority of satisfying the parents’ needs and wants. Neglectful parents are cold toward their children with no emotional support unless the parents can find a way to use a child to better fulfill their selfish needs. Children of neglectful parents have a very difficult time finding their place in society and try desperately to please and find acceptance in others.
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