Parenting Styles

Parenting styles has recently been a hot topic. Experts differ on their opinions of the best parenting styles. This article offers information on several different parenting styles, allowing you to decide which parenting style works best for you and your family.

Everyone who read the news about the "Tiger Mother" has had reason to think about the extreme differences in parenting styles that spring from different cultures, different philosophies, and different views of childhood. Trying to understand parenting styles is challenging. This is especially true because different experts say different things.

For example, one website refers the the four styles of parenting. Another refers to three styles of parenting. The contradictions can be confusing. One site that refers to four styles of parenting calls the four "Authoritarian," "Authoritative," "Permissive," and "Uninvolved." The first parenting style is parenting by a set of strict rules without explanation; the second is parenting with strict rules and a flexible attitude that is open to democracy to some degree; the third parenting style is indulgent, setting few standards for behavior and few expectations; the fourth parenting style doesn't go beyond fulfilling the child's basic needs. 

Dr. Phil describes three styles on his website: Authoritarian Parenting, Equalitarian Parenting, and Permissive Parenting. He crosses these with three types of child: rebellious, cooperative, and passive, and discusses how good or poor the match of parenting style is with each type of child. 

While the Authoritarian and Permissive categories in the two systems may be fairly close matches, the Authoritative, Equalitarian, and Uninvolved parents seem to be distinct, giving us a total of five styles of parenting from the two systems. There are also parents who consciously adopt aspects of more than one system: those who choose to be, say, authoritative about some matters, and more permissive about other, less important, things.

In addition, anyone with more than one child knows that even a parent who tries to be consistent may need to modify his or her style when faced with a child who responds differently. If you have one shy child and one outgoing child, one child who prefers the "life of the mind" and another who excels at sports, or one who's basically cheerful and one who's a pessimist, adaptation is the name of the game. This type of parent who tries to flexibly adapt his or her parenting style to meet the needs of his or her particular child or children is not discussed in either the three-style or the four-style system.

These two systems also ignore many other identified parenting approaches, including "Slow parenting," which aims to allow children to fully experience childhood and take an exploratory approach to the world.

They also ignore dysfunctional parenting approaches, such as the over-concerned, so-called "helicopter" parent, always hovering over the child, and ranging through a range of abusive parenting styles that can be extremely damaging to children. The parent who is physically or verbally abusive has a parenting style - not one that should be held up for emulation, but nevertheless of a type that can be singled out and identified as a way that a parent interacts with a child and not fitting into the categories offered by the 3- and 4-style systems.


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