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Parenting Styles: An Introduction

By: Sarah Edwards - Updated: 14 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Child Children Parent Family Boundaries

Being a parent and bringing up children is not an easy task, in fact in many ways it is the hardest job you may ever have because there is such a wealth of conflicting advice and information available.

Family Advice

You may well find that friends and family all want to share with you the benefit of their advice, gleaned from many years of experience of bringing up children, but ultimately the way you raise your children and help your family to grow and develop is up to you, your own standards, boundaries, ideas and plans for the future of you and your children.

It is often difficult to know exactly what parenting methods and styles to adopt and you may find that you are questioning yourself on a regular basis about certain aspects of your children’s development! This is never helped by spending too much time with competitive friends who may appear to be well meaning with their tips and advice, but who can also make life even more stressful!

Parenting Has Changed

There is no doubt that the way we bring up our children is definitely changing, and while your parents and grandparents may have had one style of parenting, this may not fit in well with the expectations you now have as a parent yourself.One of the best known specialists in parenting styles is Diana Baumrind and she had four distinct categories for describing the ways that people parent their children. So are you a permissive, authoritarian or assertive-democratic parent?

Permissive Parenting

If you basically allow your child to have a lot of freedom, consult them about everything that is happening in your household and make very few demands on them when it comes to helping with chores, then you are probably a permissive parent. This style of parenting became popular after the war when children were first encouraged to think for themselves, and the old ‘children should be seen and not heard’ approach started to change.

Although children raised in this style can be creative and original, they often have trouble fitting in because they lack boundaries and in basic terms have been allowed to get away with bad behaviour. They often struggle to fit in at school because they have little or no idea about the real difference between right and wrong, and often have poor social skills because other children find their behaviour difficult to cope with.

Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parents on the other hand, adopt a style that involves having too much control over their children. Their focus is often on ensuring that they display positive behaviour at all times, and are actively involved with helping around the house. Children are kept firmly in their place, and there really is no room for arguing. In this case, the parents’ word is law! This extreme approach to parenting is very traditional and now considered to be largely outdated and unnecessary.

Assertive-Democratic Parenting

Assertive-democratic parents however, spend their time working hard to make sure some basic boundaries are established for their children and they actively encourage them to take responsibility for what they have done, while at the same time giving them lots of opportunities to make their own independent choices.

Bad behaviour is usually dealt with by using time out, and saying sorry and making up are all part of the process. Assertive-democratic parenting is the best for today's children as they learn to accept responsibility, make wiser choices and cope with change really well. This is because they have basic and simple boundaries in place in their lives.

Baumrind also idenftified neglectful parenting in her research - in other words parents who either do not wish to interact with their children, or who simply, for whatever reason, cannot interact - instead simply managing to fulfil basic responsibilities and duties of care, but with little concern for the development of their child.

Loving, Secure Parenting

Although parenting styles may have changed over the years, the basic job of parents remains the same, and we have a responsibility to ensure our children have loving, secure homes in which to grow and develop into well balanced, adjusted, reasonable, sociable and happy young people who have much to contribute to society.

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