You were brought up in a certain way and chances are that if was effective with you, you will raise your children the same way. But if you feel your parents were harsh, you probably made a promise to follow a different style when you have kids. Whatever the case, experts have identified four types of parenting skills.
Which one is your style?
The negligent parent may love the child and cater for her basic needs, but does a little more. This parent struggles to show their child affection and its possibly because they had the child unwillingly. Sometimes this parent may just be exhausted with simply trying to put food on the table, or perhaps their lifestyle is such that they are seldom at home. It could be that this kind of parent was never nurtured as a child and so they don’t know how to nurture. Perhaps through divorce, they have been separated from their child and in time, the phone calls and visits started becoming an effort they would rather avoid. This parent may be suffering from an illness or chronic depression that doesn’t allow them the energy needed to have much interaction with their child.
There is zero tolerance for non-compliance and commonly the emphasis is on what the child has done wrong, rather than on what they have done right. The parents may be overly critical of themselves and may be perfectionists setting high standards which they feel they themselves seldom achieve. This feeling of failure is then transferred into high expectations for the child to achieve in order to validate the parents. “Do as I say, not as I do,” and “My way or the highway” drive this type of parenting. This parent requires that they be in absolute control all the time. The child is not allowed an opinion that doesn’t conform. Choice doesn’t enter into the equation and “Because I said so,” is sufficient explanation for any rule. Rules are numerous, not explained or negotiated and applied to the point of physical punishment. Smacking is common to this parenting style. Sometimes this child may not even be aware as to why she is being punished. Children who don’t adhere to the rules are often heavily criticised and made to feel that they are not living up to their parents’ expectations. Fear is used frequently to control the child.
Do you find yourself giving in to your child’s demands every time? Do you ignore unacceptable behaviour rather than confront it? Do you find yourself describing obnoxious behaviour in euphemisms such as ‘discovering her will’, ‘expressing her individuality and freedom’, ‘probably gets the behaviour from me’, and ‘typical tot behaviour’? This type of parenting lies on the opposite side of the scale from the authoritarian parent. Often these parents suffered under the rule of authoritarian parents and so opt for a parenting style that is as far removed from their own experience as possible. This style of parenting is characterised by few, if any rules and boundaries. Often the parents need to be liked by the child, which they believe necessitates not imposing limitations on behaviour. Permissive parents are mostly loving and warm, and seldom attempt to implement any form of discipline. They are commonly very involved in their children’s lives. Parents may choose to ignore or brush off bad behaviour, such as rudeness, inconsiderate actions or aggression. Children are not expected to do anything, least of all help around the house with age-appropriate chores. The parents spoil the child.
The democratic parent falls between the authoritarian and permissive parent. Rules are set, but negotiation occurs with the child as to why the rule is being made, and appropriate consequences may be discussed if the rule is broken. Unlike an authoritarian parent, the democratic parent makes few rules, but expects them to be obeyed. Affection and love are expressed frequently and the child’s needs, where appropriate, are met. Should the need for discipline arise, the child would be made aware as to why she is being disciplined. Parents are encouraging rather than critical, and the emphasis is on acknowledging success rather than failures. Age-appropriate independence is encouraged. The child is made aware of any shortcomings. These parents want their child to be accountable and accept responsibility for their actions, rather than to blame others. Democratic parents are consistent in their approach and encourage, as opposed to over-enthuse. In this type of parenting, the child is built and not broken.