Parenting and parenting styles are the common display behaviours that we follow to support the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of our kids. It used to be the obvious social behaviour or pattern in earlier times but now, the parents of the modern era are more aware or willing to adopt the best parenting behaviour for their children.
Need for a Good parenting
We often misinterpret parenting as providing basic amenities like shelter, food, clothing, medical care, education and protection from harm, but good parenting involves a mental state when our Kids must feel safe and sound. Also, it is a positive deal of discipline and routine that includes awareness, giving children a sense of control which of course depends upon children’s age and stage of development.
It is often helpful to identify what characteristics can lead to successful parenting. Let’s discuss a few well researched and followed classifications of child-rearing:
- Traditional parenting styles- authoritative, neglectful, permissive, and authoritarian.
- Modern parenting styles- free-range, helicopter, paranoid and positive parenting.
Different styles of Parenting
Before getting into the details we have to keep in mind that there is no single way to parent. Each parent’s approach will look different based on their academic, social, intellectual and emotional needs. My write up is based on the study of Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist, and Stanford researchers Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin.
1. The Permissive Parent
• High responsiveness, low demandingness
• Communicates openly and usually lets their kids decide for themselves, rather than giving direction
• Rules and expectations are either not set or rarely enforced
• Typically goes through great lengths to keep their kids happy, sometimes at their own expense
Permissive parents are more likely to take on a friendship role, rather than a parenting role, with their kids. They generally prefer to avoid conflict and will often acquiesce to their children’s pleas at the first sign of distress. These parents mostly allow their kids to do what they want and offer limited guidance or direction.
2. The Authoritative Parent
• High responsiveness, high demandingness
• Sets clear rules and expectations for their kids while practising flexibility and understanding
• Communicates frequently; they listen to and take into consideration their children’s thoughts, feelings and opinions
• Allows natural consequences to occur (e.g., kid fails quiz when they didn’t study), but uses those opportunities to help their kids reflect and learn
Authoritative parents are nurturing, supportive and often in tune with their children’s needs. They guide their children through open and honest discussions to teach values and reasoning. Kids who have authoritative parents tend to be self-disciplined and can think for themselves.
3. The Neglectful Parent
• Low responsiveness, low demandingness
• Lets their kids mostly fend for themselves, perhaps because they are indifferent to their needs or are uninvolved/overwhelmed with other things
• Offers little nurturance, guidance and attention
• Often struggles with their own self-esteem issues and have a hard time forming close relationships
Sometimes referred to as uninvolved parenting, this style is exemplified by an overall sense of indifference. Neglectful parents have limited engagement with their children and rarely implement rules. They can also be seen as cold and uncaring — but not always intentionally, as they are often struggling with their own issues.
4. The Authoritarian Parent
• High demandingness, low responsiveness
• Enforces strict rules with little consideration of their kid’s feelings or social-emotional and behavioural needs
• Often says “because I said so” when their kid questions the reasons behind a rule or consequence
• Communication is mostly one-way — from parent to child
• Child is offered limited choices or decisions about their own life
• Use punishment to teach a lesson
This rigid parenting style uses stern discipline, often justified as “tough love.” In an attempt to be in full control, authoritarian parents often talk to their children without wanting their input and willingness of their kids. I strongly suggest avoiding such a parenting style because in a long run the kid can be prone to low self-esteem, being fearful, associating obedience with love, and often misbehaving outside of parental care.
5. Free-Range Parenting
Parenting from a free-range perspective is to allow and encourage your child as much freedom and independence that is appropriate for their age and development.
• Provide a child with autonomy, self-reliance and responsibility early and often
• Allowing kids to have unsupervised time to explore their environments
• Teaching kids a realistic acceptance of personal risks
Free-range parents believe they are giving their children childhood back, they seek to have their children happy 100% of the time by allowing them to take some risks and explore on their own. Understandably, free-range parenting is a highly debated topic amongst parents. Opposition to it often revolves around the safety aspect and if children should have so much independence, especially when they are young.
6. Helicopter Parenting
Helicopter parenting is a coined term for “overparenting”. This means the parent is involved in a child’s life in a way that is over-controlling, over-protecting, and over-perfecting.
• Parents begin with good intentions to protect their child
• The parent often solves the problem for a child
• Child relies on the parent to solve the issue
• Child may exhibit decreased confidence and self-esteem, underdeveloped coping skills, and increased anxiety
Although helicopter parenting begins with good intentions of wanting to protect their children, a child will often not learn to advocate for themselves or solve their own problems.
This can go on to inhibit their resilience as adults.
7. Paranoid Parenting
This parenting style is controlled by insecurities and fear that something might happen to their children.
• Parents not allowing their children to join in activities due to safety concerns
• Children’s outdoor and creative play is restricted due to anxieties
• Parents have a set perception of the lack of safety in the world around them
It is easy to feel like there are many dangers in the world and, as a result, to try to find the best ways to protect our children. It is important however to find a balance between keeping kids safe while allowing them to develop independence, autonomy and resilience.
8. Positive Parenting
The focus of positive parenting is to establish love and connection and to resist the temptation to be punitive, but rather guide with control and empathy.
• Parents who are committed to regulating their own emotions
• Parent shows unconditional love
• Parent focuses on establishing a connection before the correction of behaviours
• Limits are set, but they are set with empathy
This parenting style has a great deal of research supporting it and has shown success in raising children that can better address and work through their feelings and emotions, especially in difficult moments. With positive parenting you are still able to set limits, however, you are motivating your children to follow through based on the connection you have created with them and the positive-pessimistic modelling you do yourself. It is a parenting mindset characterised by empathy, respect, understanding and boundaries.
Well, as I said earlier when it comes to parenting, there is no “single lane.” To me, parenting is a beautiful journey and I feel the most successful parents are the ones that change their style, depending on the situation, age and the needs of your loved one. My gynaecologist use to say that “each pregnancy is different” and now I realize that each child is different and unique that’s the way the Lord assigned this great job to the different parents.
We don’t need to follow just one type, we can choose the “best fit and tailored” parenting approach — but in moderation to provide warmth, love and peace of mind!