What’s your parenting style?

What's your parenting style?

There's no one right way to parent although researchers have found four different styles of parenting. 

In the 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumarind looked at the different ways parents guide, socialise and control their children. She named three styles of parenting that are still referred to today: authoritative, authoritarian and permissive. A fourth, uninvolved or neglectful, was added later. 

Of course, no parent fits into one of these styles all the time, but they tend to have one main style. Parents will change from one to another according to what is going on. They will also react differently to different children in the same family. Each parenting style is defined according to both how demanding and responsive the parent is to the child. 

Which of these describes you best?

The four parenting styles: 

1. Authoritative parents are warm, responsive and able to communicate with their children positively. They offer support and set firm but fair limits, stepping in where necessary but otherwise letting the child manage themselves. Self-discipline is an important skill to teach children and young people. The authoritative parent can enforce boundaries where needed and apply consequences even though these may cause conflict. 

The child learns to be assertive, can self-regulate and so more likely to grow up to be resilient, happy and responsible adults. As they are better adjusted emotionally, they are more able to form stronger, positive personal relationships. Whilst there are some cultural differences, the authoritative parenting style links to the best outcomes for children regardless of culture. 

2. The authoritarian parent is strict, controlling and values discipline. They are more demanding than responsive and they expect the child to obey without any explanation. The parent is also more likely to interfere, shout and threaten a punishment that they might not even follow through. At the extreme level, there may be physical or emotional abuse to control the child. With such rigid and harsh parenting, the child is highly likely to have low self-esteem and be prone to anxiety and depression.

4. The permissive parent sees themselves as more of a friend than a parent to their child. Indulgent and lenient, they set few expectations and will avoid confrontation at all costs. The permissive parent may be trying to make up for what they feel their childhood lacked or they may believe that giving the child material things means they do not demand time and so seems like the easier option. 

The child has the upper hand but this lack of boundaries causes them to feel insecure as they look for limits to their behaviour with no consistency or predictability. This can reach challenging and aggressive behaviour in adolescence as there are no consequences for rude, careless or hurtful behaviour. This aggressive behaviour is usually towards a parent so, whilst the child likely ends up with good social skills and high self-esteem, their parents may struggle. 

 3. The neglectful parent is severely uninvolved to the point of neglect and therefore abuse. 

Problems can arise when two parents use differing parenting styles; where one tends to over-react whilst the other is overly permissive, for example. The child is likely to feel anxious and insecure and may also find it difficult to tolerate emotions. 

The good news is by developing a positive parenting style you can reduce the negative impact of the authoritarian, permissive or uninvolved parent. 

Develop a positive parenting style

The biggest influence on your children is you! So model the values that are important to you.

As your counsellor, I will work with you to look at your child's behaviour AND yours, to see how you are contributing. Therapy will help you recognise what you can do to make the change in your family that you want without leaving you feeling overwhelmed. You will be supported in your parenting as a team (whether you are still together as a couple or not) and strengthen your communication, making it consistent and clear. 

Has this resonated with you? Get in touch here to see how I can help.