The process of parenting begins before a baby is born and evolves gradually over time as the growing child and the parents interact with each other. Parents are responsible for providing the child's basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Beyond this, parenting includes such tasks as teaching children about social interaction, good hygiene, and safety. The job of parenting also involves imparting ethical and religious beliefs and fostering attitudes about matters such as education, work, sexuality, and relationships with others.
What parenting style do you use with your child? A Psychologist by the name of Diana Baumrind, studied a group of preschool children and their parents and concluded that parenting styles can be divided into three main types: the authoritarian, the permissive, and the authoritative. The methods each parent uses to guide, educate and discipline his or her child makes up his or her parenting style.
The authoritarian style of parenting emphasizes obedience, respect for authority, and proper behaviour. Authoritarian parents tend to establish a set of rules and punish their children, even physically for misconduct and are quick to criticize them. Children in authoritarian households are not allowed to question their parents' decisions or encouraged to express their opinions and feelings.
The permissive style of parenting of parenting on the other hand set a few rules and place few demands on their children. Permissive parents tend to rely on reason and negotiation rather than punishment to control their children, and typically tolerate aggressive behaviour. They avoid intervening in their children's play and other activities. In the extreme, permissive parents are inattentive or indifferent to their children and keep them at a distance.
The authoritative style of parenting strikes a balance between the other two parenting styles. Although authoritative parents set rules, they discuss the rules with their children and do not expect rigid adherence to them. Authoritative parents expect much of their children, but they are warm, accepting, and willing to listen to the children's point of view and to make compromises. They establish limits and boundaries but also give children the freedom to explore and enlarge their world.
Here's an example to illustrate the three parenting styles. A child requests a chocolate bar knowing that his parents do not like him to eat chocolate bars. In all likelihood, an authoritarian parent would refuse the child's request without an explanation; if the child picked up the chocolate bar, this parent might even slap his hand to make him put it back.
A permissive parent on the other hand, would probably buy the chocolate bar because the child is allowed to make his own choices or perhaps because that would be the easiest thing to do.
An authoritative parent might compromise with the child. That is, the parent might agree to buy the chocolate bar, if the child promised to save it until after dinner.
Take our parenting quiz to see what type of parenting style you would fall under:
- 1. Your son hits another child at soccer practice. You would...
- a. ignore them and just let them fight or play
- b. get mad and tell the other boy to hit him back
- c. tell him that it is not right to hit people, make him apologize, and take away a privilege if this is a repeat offence
- 2. Your daughter and her friends have made a big mess in your playroom and now want to go play outside. You would...
- a. let them go out and clean up yourself
- b. yell at them and make them clean up
- c. help them clean up by making a game out of who can pick up the most toys
- 3. If your pre-teen son wants to rent an R rated movie that his friends have all watched, you would...
- a. let him watch it
- b. get angry and tell him he can't rent any movies
- c. say no and help him find a more age appropriate movie
- 4. Your son is putting off going to bed because he says that he wants something to eat, and you...
- a. let him eat whatever he wants
- b. get mad and make him go to bed hungry
- c. let him have a nutritious snack, but tell him that he will have to start eating more at dinner so that he isn't hungry at bedtime
- 5. When your kids don't do their chores you...
- a. do them yourself
- b. get mad, yell and make them do them right away
- c. give them a helpful reminder that they need to be responsible and do their chores
- 6. When your kids whine and have tantrums you...
- a. give in to stop the whining
- b. get mad and send them to their rooms
- c. don't give in and afterwards explain better ways that they can express their frustrations
- 7. If your kids get in trouble, you...
- a. don't do much of anything
- b. get mad and yell or spank them
- c. discipline them and later explain better choices they could have made so they don't get in trouble again
- 8. Your daughter wants a new toy at the grocery store, so you...
- a. buy it so that she doesn't have a tantrum
- b. get mad and tell her she can't have any new toys
- c. tell her no, but explain that you will bring her back to buy it when she saves enough of her allowance
- 9. If your preschool age daughter has a nightmare and wakes you up, you would...
- a. let her go back to sleep wherever she wants
- b. get mad at her for waking you up and tell her to go back to bed
- c. comfort her and help her go back to sleep once she calms down
- 10. Your main goal of parenting and discipline is to...
- a. make sure everyone is happy and doing whatever they want
- b. get your kids to listen to you no matter what
- c. teach your children why your rules are important and help them learn to make good choices on their own
To score the quiz, simply count the number of answers corresponding to each letter:
If you have more 'a' answers, then you are likely a permissive parent.
If you have more 'b' answers, then you are likely an authoritarian parent.
If you have more 'c' answers, then you are likely an authoritative parent.
If you have equal amounts of 'a', 'b' or 'c' answers, then you have a mixed style of parenting.