AS parents, we undoubtedly have different styles when it comes to parenting our children. But do you know which style you’re actually using? More importantly, what are the effects and is it working? These are the questions most parents may be asking themselves.
Experts have actually researched this area and discovered several parenting styles and their varying effects on children.
One of the most popular researchers is Diana Baumrind. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.
In the 1960s, Baumrind developed her Pillar Theory, which draws relationships between basic parenting styles and children’s behaviour. See if you recognise yours in any of Baumrind’s styles of parenting categories.
According to Baumrind, the authoritarian parent attempts to shape, control, and evaluate the behaviour and attitudes of the child in accordance to a set standard of conduct, usually an absolute standard, theologically-motivated and formulated by a higher authority.
Such parent values obedience as a virtue and favours punitive, forceful measures to curb self-will at points where the child’s actions or beliefs conflict with what the parent thinks is right conduct. All abusive parents are authoritarians even though not all authoritarian parents are abusive.
On the other side of the scale, there are permissive parents. They adopt a free-for-all attitude and very little rules are in place. They tend to give in to all of their children’s requests. These children typically end up being spoilt.
According to Baumrind, the permissive parent attempts to behave in a non-punitive, acceptant and affirmative manner towards the child’s impulses, desires, and actions.
She (the parent) presents herself to the child as a resource for him (the child) to use as he wishes, not as an ideal for him to emulate, nor as an active agent responsible for shaping or altering his ongoing or future behaviour.
She allows the child to regulate his own activities as much as possible, avoids the exercise of control, and doesn’t encourage him to obey externally-defined standards.
As you can guess, authoritative parenting style is the balance of both. It’s firm but fair. Parents punish when children misbehave but they also take the time to explain why. More importantly, they tend to be more proactive and positive in all their actions.
Baumrind said that the authoritative parent attempts to direct the child’s activities but in a rational, issue-oriented manner. The parent encourages verbal give and take, shares with the child the reasoning behind each policy, and solicits his objections when he refuses to conform.
The parent enforces his/her own perspective as an adult, but recognises the child’s individual interests and special ways. The authoritative parent affirms the child’s present qualities, but also sets standards for future conduct.
WHICH STYLE IS YOURS?
Authoritative parenting is the recommended one. We don’t want our children to fear but respect us. But how do we gain respect from others?
We must respect them first. We can earn the respect by developing a habit of openly discussing matters with the family. We must be seen as taking their inputs, ideas, constraints and challenges into consideration.
Don’t make it a one-way street where things are done either “my way or the highway”. At the same, it shouldn’t be total freedom without much control. Once we find the right balance, we’ll be on our way to a great happy journey with our family.