What Parenting Style Do You Use?

The basis of today’s parenting theories arose from research done in the late 1960s.  That research resulted in the development of three distinct parenting styles:

Authoritarian – These parents they tell their child exactly what to do and, if they do not listen, they pay the price. They often don’t explain the reasoning behind the rules are except to say “Because I said so.” They are very strict, highly demanding and controlling, and expect to be obeyed by punitive and forceful methods. They do not encourage a give-and-take relationship.

Uninvolved – These parents allow their child to do whatever they want to because they make little or no demands and are often detached from parenting. There is low responsiveness and little or no communication, but they still do meet the child’s basic needs. There are many cases where this child is neglected, rejected, or abandoned.

Authoritative – These parents provide their child with rules and guidance without being overbearing, and they establish rules and guidelines that are expected to be followed. They are democratic, nurturing, forgiving, love to listen, and rely on natural consequences. They are assertive but not punitive while using modeling and positive reinforcement. They want their children to grow up and be assertive, independent but cooperative. These parents are willing to explain rules and why they must be followed. This is a give-and –take relationship.

These theories were later expanded to include a fourth category called Permissive. This style disregards the child as the main focus, since instead the adult’s own interest as an individual takes precedent over being a parent. The child is forced to self-regulate their own activities. There are little or no demands on the child, with much manipulation going on to get the child to do something. Lastly there are no punitive consequences because of the focus on being a friend, not a parent. This type of parent is often referred to as the “indulgent” parent because they are often more responsive than they are demanding.

The effects and impact of these four styles have been the subject of many research studies over the years, which has led to much controversy about the reported consequences and conclusions.

* Authoritarian – leads to obedient and proficient children who display lower levels of self-esteem, happiness and social competence. These children are more than five times more likely to be overweight than those from authoritative parents.

* Uninvolved – leads to lack of self-control, lower self-esteem, and less competence than their peers. They rank the lowest in having acquired effective life skills.

* Permissive – leads to children who are the most unhappy, rank low in self-regulation and education, and have problems with authority.

* Authoritative – leads to children who are happy, successful, and capable. Favoring an authoritative parenting style has the largest advantage because these children learn the discipline and respect that helps to develop their thinking and understanding, leading them to success. These kids grow up learning to either conform or adapt more easily. As they grow older, they become self-reliant, learn to compromise, exhibit self-control, become productive, and maintain good relationships with their siblings and parents.

Many parents feel that their parenting style is a combination of the different styles, and that their style is affected by the child’s temperament, influences of one’s own parents, family size, socio-economic status, educational level, religion, parental background, parental status, and culture. It is a good idea to consider these contributing factors prior to having a child.

Today, there are so many free resources on how to be an effective and good parent that there is almost no reason why a parent should not be. Parents who lack this knowledge have a difficult time raising their children and these children experience harsher consequences for it. Many of those consequences are that these children are easily influenced with drugs and violence and are prone to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse due to poor parenting. This is why many government and non-profit organizations are making parenting resources more available.

Learning the effective methods of parenting is vital to the happiness and health of your child. If you have never given thought to your parenting style, it is never too late to adapt to a healthy style of parenting. After all, effective parenting does not come naturally; it is learned.

About Elizabeth Rojas Brooks

Elizabeth Brooks completed her Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Southern California, and is currently pursuing a Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology. Because of her own background, Beth has developed a level of compassion and understanding for the less fortunate, the wounded and the misunderstood. Her journey to recover from her own past has led her to pursue her passion – helping others who have had similar experiences. Beth’s goal is to work in the area of violence and abuse prevention and addiction recovery. She also has a special desire to assist our service men and women who are struggling with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

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