What’s your parenting style? – An exploration into my own views on the four established parenting styles; uninvolved, permissive, authoritarian and authoritative.
We are all surrounded by examples of the four extensively researched parenting styles. I didn’t actually know this until I turned up to playgroup one Wednesday afternoon in my old baggy tracksuit, food encrusted, slightly too small t-shirt with half a cold take away coffee. I found one of my very close, very organised mum friends all set with research on hand to discuss how we parent and what parenting style we all believed was the best.
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1. At first glance, there is absolutely no reason why anyone would choose the uninvolved parenting style. Why have a child, meet only their basic needs, but nothing else? No emotional connectivity with your child. And I would 100% agree, or at least I would have until about three months ago. That was when my beautiful, intelligent, funny, friendly and well behaved child turned into a tantruming, whinging, argumentative monster. It’s not all day, and it’s not every day, but some days, I just want to give her breakfast, lunch and dinner and leave her to her own devices, with absolutely no input or emotional connection to her mini diva self.
2. The permissive parenting style is one that comes up often as part of the idea that rules can stifle creativity, growth and development. I sincerely hope that I have not been guilty of parenting in this style.It drives me nuts when parents refuse to discipline their children at all. No, it’s not cute or ok that your child is spitting on me, hitting that random stranger in the crotch, or stealing all the sand toys in the sand pit. I don’t want to stifle my daughter, but I do want to let her know that some things are just not acceptable.
3. The authoritarian parenting style is one that I know I have adopted at times. I try very hard not to, but sometimes I hear myself come out with the classic line “just do it because I said so”. The authoritarian parenting style is very dictatorial and creates children and adults who will follow the rules without thought. In some cases, this is obviously important, but in general, I want my daughter to think for herself. To stand up to a bully even if they’re a person of responsibility. And to know her own mind and form her own ethics and morals. At the moment, she most definitely doesn’t have a problem with knowing her own mind, and as challenging as the daily arguments about wearing weather appropriate clothing and how many meals a day should consist of a peanut butter sandwich, I want her to keep that strength of character as she grows.
4. Finally, the authoritative parenting style is the one that research has shown is the most likely to grow well adjusted, creative, interested, moral, ethical, individual decision makers. My own gorgeous parents were such a perfect example of this style. They allowed my sister and I to make mistakes and break clearly set rules, and then gently guided us though the consequences, sometimes natural and sometimes a punishment of their making. They were amazing, I’m not sure that I’m a prime example of the perfect product, but I hope their efforts show in my personality and behaviour. It’s hard to let my baby, my four year old make mistakes, but I recognise that she needs to make her own decisions and own the consequences.
Perhaps, for most of us, the decision to follow one particular parenting style is not a conscious one. It certainly wasn’t for me or any of the other mums who were at playgroup that day. In fact, if my own parents, and my own parenting styles are anything to go by, our best efforts are a combination of all of them, the ones we consciously decided to adopt, and the ones we probably don’t want to admit occur in our homes and our heads.
Can you recognise your own parenting style in any of these? Did you decide to parent this way deliberately, or did you just fall into that particular style?