What’s your parenting style?

2012-10-04 00:00

PARENTING often just happens. We look at behavioural problems our children are demonstrating and very seldom do we have the courage to look within and evaluate the attitudes, behaviours and expectations we are demonstrating towards our children. These are often not intentional but rather an extension of our personalities and our own upbringing. Sometimes, however, we need to take a look and see if we need to change to help our child become all they are created to be.

There are roughly three main parenting styles that one may fall into.


Authoritarian Parenting

These parents run the home tightly. The parent takes control of all situations and makes the decisions. The children know their boundaries are clearly set in stone. There is little flexibility and grace is sometimes hard to find. These parents set the rules, and decide on rewards and punishments. The children know what is expected of them and the results of not following through. This parenting style allows for the home to be run firmly and for everything to function well.

This is a challenging parenting style, as if issued without gentleness and care, the authoritarian parent can create obedient and compliant behaviour, but this could be due to fear or not wanting to upset the parent.

These children generally have a happy well-balanced childhood, but they may not learn to think for themselves and often never really “find themselves”. They can become unhappy and as they are punished if they do things their own way they can have low self-esteem.


Permissive Parenting

The permissive parent is usually in tune with their children’s emotions and feelings. They desire for their children to be free thinkers, creative and self-motivated. These children are presented with broad, flexible boundaries and know that if they are able to motivate their reasoning and cause, their parents will probably give them the freedom to explore or partake.

This style encourages children to think, reason and make decisions. It gives them a sense of pride and develops life skills that may not have been achieved if they had not been given the freedom to develop.

Both Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein grew up in permissive homes. This parenting style, however, requires a great deal of participation, guidance and responsibility on the parents’ part. Children left to themselves within a permissive environment are not only going to breed bad character, but can also be very dangerous. Permissive parents need to be alert and available for their children at all times.


Authoritative/Responsible Parenting

These parents have established rules and boundaries, yet the child understands why they have been put in place. The parents also know when grace needs to be demonstrated and the rules may be broken.

When children fail to reach expectations, the parents tend more towards training and nurturing their children and allow natural consequences to teach them than punishments. They hold high expectations of their children’s behaviour, but aid them in learning life skills on how to reach these.

The children are given opportunity to make their own decisions, yet the parent is available to work through it with them and they are held accountable for their actions. These children develop into successful and confident adults who have developed responsibility and self-discipline.

All too often our children’s behaviour is a spin-off and reaction to our behaviour towards them. So let us take the courage today to take a real look at ourselves, our expectations and attitudes, and see if these are, in fact, triggering our children’s attitudes and behaviour. If it is, we then need to dig really deep and choose to change.



• Joanne Madgwick is a parenting and educational consultant. Find out more about her at www.susaparentcentre.com


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