Your parenting style is likely to impact the way your child grows up, and is often influenced by how you were raised, and the style of parenting your parents employed. The most effective parenting involves being responsive to your children, and at the same time, setting clear rules and limits.
Just because you are going to naturally lean toward one way of parenting over another because that is what your parents did, does not mean you have to be that kind of parent. You can choose to parent however you want. However, before you can pick a parenting style, it is good to understand what the various styles mean, and how they affect the child and how they grow up.
Basically there are four types of parenting. Choosing your type of parenting can be determined by this simple example. When your child asks if they can do something and you do not want them to, how do you respond? “You better not, or else”; “No means no”; “Do whatever you want”; or “I don’t care what you do”. These four, very different, answers embody the basics of each of the various styles of parenting. Your personal philosophies, and your goals for how you want your child to end up should influence which of these parenting styles you choose. Let’s take a closer look at each:
“You better not, or else” – This is what is called the authoritarian approach to parenting. It is like a dictator’s approach. It means that even if the answer is correct (in this case, no) the reason is not always the healthiest. Usually the reason for rules is because you are the parent. It is a parenting style that has strict rules set, and children are to obey and follow without question. Usually if a rule is broken there is a punishment. This works fairly well in many societies, but when it comes to children it often leads to low self-esteem, the inability to make decisions for yourself, and a lack of creativity. While rules are important, blind obedience to rules should be avoided. When picking your parenting style remember that while you are the authority figure, and your child should respect that, you want them to think for themselves and not follow blindly.
“A no means a no” – This is a parenting style called authoritative. It means that the parents are firm and assertive with set rules about discipline, and punishments attached to said rules if broken, but with some flexibility. When this approach is used, children understand that they can not do something because there is a rule, but are given the opportunity to dispute the rule using logic and reason. For example, if they feel the rule should not apply in their situation, or feel it should be altered, they have a good enough relationship with the parent, based on mutual respect, to have an open dialogue on it, and will respect their parents final decision, just as the parent respects their opinions on the rule.
“Do anything you want” – If this is the answer you give, you most likely parent with a permissive or indulgent parenting style. This is where you do not demand certain behaviors from your children because you want them to feel loved, or to be loved in return. It is a parenting style that avoids confrontation, and often leaves children with little self-discipline and immature attitudes. With this parenting style, your relationship with your child is the focus, rather than your child learning appropriate behaviors.
“I don’t care what you do” – While very few parents are completely uninvolved, many have far too many demands on their time, and their children get neglected because of it. This approach to parenting involves providing for the basic needs of the child, and ignoring or neglecting the rest. Children raised this way often perform poorly in school, socially, behaviorally, etc.
Typically, most parents are variations or combinations of the above four styles. So, choose how you want to parent, and make conscious parenting decisions based on how you want your child to turn out.