Thursday, November 6, 2014

Parenting Styles

There's a lot that's been written on the topic of parenting styles. So much of what's been written (on any topic of parenting) is about laying out all the evidence, so the parent has no choice but to say, "Welp, clearly this is the best way forward, and if I don't do what they say my kid will end up...(a delinquent, a sociopath, emotionally damaged, fill in the blank)."

It doesn't matter what parenting style I advocate for; if you've already made up your mind on how you want to parent, nothing will change. If you haven't made up your mind, but you don't have the tools you need to change your parenting style, nothing will change.

There are many, many parents who will say, "Well, this is how I was raised, and I turned out fine, so it's fine for my kids." And it's not only very possible, but very likely that your kid will be fine. That's why I'd like to take a different approach to parenting. This is not going to be about your kids, about how they'll turn out, about making the "right" decisions. This is going to be about you. If you're happy with how your parenting is, if it feels right to you, good. If not, I hope to be able to point you in the direction of a parenting style that feels more real, more right, so that no matter what the outcomes you can feel satisfied with the job you have done as a parent.

When people begin to discuss parenting styles, they start with the work of Baumrind, which was later expanded by Maccoby and Martin. Their work has two criteria for parenting: demandingness (your expectations of your children) and responsiveness (how responsive you are to your children). They came up with four parenting styles that fit these criteria:

Neglectful: low on demandingness and responsiveness
Permissive: low on demandingness, high on responsiveness
Authoritative: high on demandingness, high on responsiveness
Authoritarian: high on demandingness, low on responsivness

Research shows that an authoritative parenting style has the best outcomes. It's interesting that what one person considers an authoritative parenting style another person will consider to be authoritarian. In later posts I will outline specific parenting styles and talk in more detail about parenting concerns.

For further thought:
What kind of parenting style were you raised with? How does this play into the way you would like to parent?
What worries do you have about how your child will turn out in the long term? How does this affect the way you want to parent vs. the way you actually parent?
What does having high expectations for children mean? Is there a difference between how you and society (your parents/family, friends, etc) think of high expectations?
What does being responsive to your children mean? Is there a difference between how you and society (your parents/family, friends, etc) think of parental responsiveness?

For further reading:
Wikipedia: Parenting Styles
Parenting Science: Parenting Styles
Aha Parenting: How to Find the Sweet Spot Between Too Strict and Too Permissive

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