Sunday, December 2, 2012

Parenting Styles

 Childhood Development Series: Parenting Styles
The following article is based off of notes I took in college as well as a few books and articles I have laying around my house. I am not an expert. Please seek professional advice if you have questions or concerns about you or your child's behavior.

For an introduction to the series and the topics I will cover CLICK HERE

Did you know there is a science to parenting? We've all heard various parenting terms such as "helicopter parenting" or "attachment parenting" .... but scientifically, or better yet, psychologically all parenting styles fit into 4 basic categories:


Diana Baumrind, a Developmental Psychologist, was the first to really study the various types of parenting styles and the effects said parenting styles had on children. She concluded that there were 3 main parenting types (the first 3 listed) and then later 2 other Psychologists, Maccoby and Martin, expanding on her work added the fourth style- Neglectful.

Baumrind's parenting styles were based on two aspects of parenting. The first was "Parental responsiveness", which refers to the degree the parent responds to the child's needs. The second was "Parental demandingness" which is the extent to which the parent expects more mature and responsible behavior from a child.
Most parents use a combination of these 4 styles. For example the Mom may parent in a Permissive manner and the Dad in an Authoritarian way. 

Let's dissect each style and discuss what type of behavior you get from each parenting style.

Neglectful Parenting- 
This parenting style is characterized by low demandingness with low responsiveness.This is by far the most sad. And the title speaks for itself. Children who are neglected, meaning they are forced to fend for themselves both physically and emotionally fall into this category. I once had a professor tell me that Neglect is the WORST form of abuse on a child. It literally creates sociopathic behavior and often times life long mental issues.
Sometimes the neglect isn't as extreme. Sometimes it comes in the form of an absent parent. Or a parent who provides for the child physically but not emotionally. Regardless, it is heartbreaking and can set the child up for a lifetime of struggling with love, trust, and fear of abandonment.
Adolescents who are experiencing some form of neglect that engage in risk taking behavior are most likely to engage in depressants/ "downers" and alcohol abuse to numb their pain.

Permissive Parenting-  aka: Helicopter Parenting, Overparenting, Spoiled parenting.

This parenting style is characterized by low demandingness with high responsiveness. The permissive parent is overly responsive to the child's demands, seldom enforcing consistent rules. The spoiled child often has permissive parents. Parents who are overly permissive often do so in the name of "love". They just can't bare to see their child fail, whine, or be sad. Unfortunately permissive parenting causes the most damage besides negectful parenting.
Children who have permissive parents are most likely to engage in risk taking behavior because they never learned boundaries. Children of permissive parents may tend to be more impulsive, and as adolescents, may engage more in misconduct, and in drug use. Children of permissive parents tend to have lower academic achievement levels than children of authoritative and authoritarian parents. They are also most likely to remain dependent on their parents far beyond adolescence and are usually much more immature than others their own age. 
Those that do engage in risk taking behaviors are most likely to engage in "uppers" and psychedelics such as meth and mushrooms.

Authoritarian Parenting- aka Strict parenting, Military parenting, Certain levels of religious-based parenting, punishment-based parenting.

The authoritarian parenting style is characterized by high demandingness with low responsiveness. The authoritarian parent is rigid, harsh, and demanding. Abusive parents usually fall in this category although not ALL authoritarian parents are abusive. In fact, many are not.Authoritarian parents make their children follow their directions and respect their work and effort. Authoritarian parents expect much of their child, but generally do not explain the reasoning for the rules or boundaries. Children resulting from this type of parenting may have less social competence because the parent generally tells the child what to do and how to feel instead of allowing the child to choose by him or herself.

***Side Note***
From a recent study,
  • The teens least prone to heavy drinking had authoritative parents who scored high on both accountability and warmth.
  • So-called 'indulgent' (permissive) parents, those low on accountability and high on warmth, nearly tripled the risk of their teen participating in heavy drinking.
  • 'Strict parents' or authoritarian parents – high on accountability and low on warmth – more than doubled their teen’s risk of heavy drinking. { "Teens and alcohol study: Parenting style can prevent binge drinking". Brigham Young University and Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.}
AUTHORITATIVE parenting- Attachment parenting, Nurturant parenting, Aware parenting, Certain levels of Religious-based parenting.

 Characterized by a child-centered approach. Authoritative parents can understand how their children are feeling and teach them how to regulate their feelings. They often help their children to find appropriate outlets to solve problems. Authoritative parents encourage children to be independent but still place limits on their actions. Authoritative parents encourage having them make their own decisions based upon their own reasoning. Often, authoritative parents produce children who are more independent and self-reliant.Authoritative parents will set clear standards for their children, monitor the limits that they set, and also allow children to develop autonomy. They also expect mature, independent, and age-appropriate behavior of children. Children are more likely to respond to authoritative parenting punishment because it is reasonable and fair. A child knows why they are being punished because an authoritative parent makes the reasons known. They are attentive to their children’s needs and concerns, and will typically forgive and teach instead of punishing if a child falls short.This is supposed to result in children having a higher self-esteem and independence because of the give-take nature of the authoritative parenting style. This is the most recommended style of parenting by child-rearing experts.Authoritative parenting commonly leads children to have higher academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems.

One of my favorite Childhood Developmental professors drew this chart on the board and explained:

 Every child is different. And every child has different emotional and physical needs depending on their age, mood, cognitive capabilities, etc. Your job as a parent is to recognize this and control your parenting in a productive and positive way. So that means that for one child you may need to parent here:
Being Authoritative but with an emphasis on more control and less permissiveness. I have a daughter who thrives in that environment. Too many decisions allowed on her behalf, and too little control and she gets anxious and unsettled.
On the other hand you may have another child (or maybe the same child but on a different day!) who will need you to parent here:

Bottom line:
Authoritative parenting gets the best results and is by far the healthiest way to parent. If you aren't authoritatively parenting already, you owe it to yourself, and your children to start now.

To find out more about Authoritative Parenting visit these articles. I referenced them in this article and both are amazing sources for learning more about this positive parenting tool.

Articles I referenced:
"What is assertive democratic parenting?" 
"All about the authoritative parenting style"

Happy Authoritative Parenting!

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