What is Your Parenting Style?
In our respective roles as counselors for both children and parents in private practice, we have found that a parent’s style of parenting strongly contributes to their child’s well-being, resiliency and over-all behavior. A style of parenting that provides love and support coupled with discipline and structure has been shown to be a reliable indicator of raising children that are happy and confident. In addition, we have found that a parent’s approach to discipline, level of warmth and nurturing, communication, level of control over the children, and the parent’s expectations with respect to maturity level are contributing factors in their child’s behavior and functioning.
In a series of studies conducted in the 1960s, clinical and developmental psychologist, Diana Baumrind, identified the four basic parental behavior components of responsiveness, unresponsiveness, demanding and undemanding, which she combined to create three principal parenting styles. Maccoby & Martin later identified a fourth parenting style, which is distinguished by neglectful or uninvolved parenting. In our private practice, we commonly see parents who parent using these four primary parenting styles. We ask you to ask yourself: “Which parenting style are you?”
The authoritarian parent imposes many rules and expects the child to obey without question. Misconduct is not condoned and punishment is frequently used to reinforce rules and manage the child’s behavior. The authoritarian parent has high expectations and requires the child to live up to high standards. The authoritarian parent exhibits the parental behavior components of little warmth and high control. A child being raised by an authoritarian parent may appear to be very well behaved, however, this may not actually be the case, as studies have found that children raised by authoritarian parents may only be less inclined to admit their transgressions and misconduct to authority figures. Our child counselor has repeatedly found that children raised by authoritarian parents had more difficulties feeling socially accepted by their peers, were less resourceful, had lower self esteem and were less self-reliant. One can therefore assume that even though the child may appear to be well-behaved on the surface, he may be troubled on a deeper, emotional level.
The permissive parent makes very few demands on the child, imposes few rules and permits the child to regulate his own activities. Following externally defined standards of behavior is not mandated and expectations are low for a child raised by a permissive parent. The permissive parenting style is nonpunitive and extremely accepting; the child is often treated as an equal. Components of caring and warmth coupled with low control make up parental behavior.
A child being raised by a permissive parent has likely been indulged and is typically irresponsible and has poor self-discipline. Our child counselor has found that behaviorally inhibited children who were being raised by permissive parents are also more likely to develop depression and anxiety.
The authoritative parent has clear expectations of behavior and conduct. The child’s activities are directed in a reasonable, logical manner that allows for verbal give-and-take and reasonable discussions. When necessary, the authoritative parent exerts firm control, but this is accomplished through healthy communication, not in a rigid, disciplinarian manner. The parent encourages the child’s autonomy and recognizes the child’s own interests. The authoritative parenting style is rational and affirmative and combines the parental behavior components of control with warmth and responsiveness.
We have found that a child being raised by authoritative parents will likely be well adjusted. We can assume that he does well in school, that he is self-reliant and responsible and that he has a friendly, open disposition. This is the ideal parenting-style because it is well-balanced.
The neglectful or uninvolved parent meets the child’s physical requirements but is otherwise disengaged, disconnected and emotionally distant. The unresponsive, neglectful parent places few demands on the child and exhibits very little warmth and responsiveness. A child being raised by a neglectful parent typically fares worse than children raised by parents who parent with the other three parenting styles. Typically children raised by these types of parents will function poorly in nearly all aspects of life; interestingly most juvenile offenders have been raised by uninvolved or neglectful parents. In addition, a child raised by a neglectful parent will likely have poor cognition, social and emotional skills and may struggle to form healthy attachments later in life.
Counselors for both parents and children in our private practice have found that parental responsiveness as well as parental demandingness are integral factors of good child-rearing. Clear, appropriate demands and expectations balanced with warm emotional responsiveness as well as an awareness of the child’s autonomy, are considered to be reliable predictors of well-being, achievement, competence, resiliency and self-reliance in most children. Warm emotional responsiveness along with clear, age-appropriate expectations help to form a balanced platform for successful child-rearing. For these reasons, authoritative parenting offers the leadership and guiding principles children need. When parents provide achievable benchmarks with support, fair consequences for misbehaviors, and instructive guidance with clear expectations, children thrive and are more likely to internalize the behaviors their parent’s desire.