Some parents lay down the law. Some oversee every detail of their kids’ lives. Some go to any length to give their kids what they want. Some take a more hands-off approach. Have you ever taken a minute to think about what your parenting style is and how that affects all the members of your family?
Most parents don’t really fit neatly into one particular parenting style. How you interact with your children can naturally change a bit depending on the situation. For example, if your child is sick, you may be more likely to do anything you can to keep her happy, even if that means letting her have popsicles for breakfast because she has a sore throat.
How you choose to parent is based on a variety of factors, including how you were raised and your moral, religious, and cultural values. Most experts divide parenting styles into four basic categories:
- Authoritarian: Children are expected to follow a strict set of rules established by their parents. Not following the rules usually results in punishment. Children may not question the rules.
- Authoritative: Parents have a set of expectations and guidelines for their children, but if children question the expectations, parents will explain why a rule is important. If children don’t meet expectations, parents are more likely to be forgiving and handle discipline in a way that helps their children learn from their mistakes and misdeeds.
- Permissive: Parents make very few demands on their children and rarely discipline them. They act more in the role of friend than the traditional role of parent.
- Helicopter: Parents hover anxiously over their children, getting actively involved in every aspect of their child’s life, from doing homework to making sure they’re invited to their classmates’ parties. Children often don’t get the chance to make decisions on their own, even when they’re older.
The most successful approach to raising children appears to be to both give them guidance, but also to be flexible. Remember that your child isn’t simply an extension of you and your partner, he or she is also an individual. Researchers have found that an authoritative approach to parenting tends to help children grow up to be happy, self-confident, and better able to manage life’s challenges. That’s because authoritative parents build a framework of expectations and guidelines that both keep their kids safe, but also help them build the skills they need to make decisions, deal with others in a positive way, and learn from their experiences and mistakes so they can grow up to be healthy, self-sufficient adults.
Wondering what your parenting style is? Parents.com has a short quiz that can help you discover what your approach to parenting is in a few minutes.
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