Parenting → parenting styles

A great deal of research has been done in the past decade about parenting styles – how the way we parent impact children in the long run. According to the work of developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind (1972), parenting styles can be evaluated by four classifications. These first two indicators constitute the level of acceptance parents demonstrate to their children:

  • Communication:  are parents truly listening to their children? Is communication reciprocal and transactional, or it a one-way street?
  • Warmth and nurturance:  are parents present in a reassuring, warming, caring way? Are they successful are providing their children with a sens of security are caring?

These last two indicators determine the level of control that parents are exerting on their children:

  • Expectations and maturity demands:  are parents expecting their children to grow, to perform? Are they pushing their children to do better? Are their expectations realistic?
  • Clarity and consistency of rules: are parents providing clear boundaries and a secure and controlled environment to their children?

Together, these two pair of criteria divides the various parenting styles into four very distinct quadrants:

  • Authoritarian parents score high on the control dimension, and low on acceptance.  This style is often referred to by children as “army style”.  Children are told what to do, and expected to follow the orders.  Parents often use a system of punishment to enforce their control. Rules are strict and communication is only one way: from the top (parent) down to the child.
  • Permissive parents are usually very involved with their children, and provide a loving and warming home for them. However, for many different reason, they are afraid to say no to their children.  They allow anything, and they follow the whims and desires of their children.  In a permissive relationship, parents often lose and their children win  (Lose-win).  Coloroso refers to these parents as “jellyfish” parents.
  • Authoritative parents demonstrate a high degree of acceptance, while they still keep the control level very high.  Of the four categories, this style – referred to as the “backbone” parent by Coloroso –  yields the best long term results.

However, the authoritative parenting style still encompasses a lot of very different practices, and deserves additional refinement:

  • Attachment parenting is usually used with infants and young children. It involves a very high level of warmth and nurturing, a high level of communication, while expectation remains high and children are provided with some clear yet flexible boundaries. As children become older and they learn to use critical thinking and reasoning, it is then often replaced by democratic parenting.
  • Democratic parenting is a sub category of the authoritative parenting style, in which the level of communication is increased to even higher degree. Children are thought self-discipline, so the control is kept at a moderate level.  Most of the material on this blog refer to this parenting style.

In addition, two researcher, Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin, added to Baurind’s categorization and refined the model further, in order to include abusive and uninvolved parenting (Maccoby & Martin, 1983).

  • Uninvolved or neglecting parents are simply not really present in their children’s life.  Like permissive parents, they often let their children do whatever they want, but they do not even provide the warming presence that permissive parents do. Parents who fall under this category often have kids who must take care of their own sibling for their parents.  Many are addicted or suffer from different mental health problems.
  • Abusive parents or violent parent are usually associated with a high level of control, with no realistic expectations, no communication and no nurturing.

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