Authoritative Parenting is On The Rise
Fact-checked by HeHe Stewart, Doula and birthing expert. HeHe is the founder of a Maternity Concierge, Doula and Birthing Service in the Boston area.
Parenting is a skill, an art form of sorts. If you're good at it, you have goods odds at raising children that succeed and go on to impact the world in great ways. If you're not so good at it, your children are the ones who pay the price. While children don't come with instructions there are things you can do to help support your success as a parent. One of these is to think about your parenting style.
More: Natural(ish) Parenting: A Lesson in Flexibility
Your parenting style is the way you carry yourself as a parent and the way you interact with your child. It impacts the way you discipline, speak to, and teach your child. Your parenting style is the result of your own personality, your relationship with your parents, and many other things like your mental health, your belief around children and their ability, and your family dynamics.
Don't get me wrong, parenting is hard work and there are labels for everything...and I mean everything. Parents are placed into "categories" based on their choices like methods of sleep training and vaccine preferences. The way you interact and discipline your child is not immune to this critical judgement. It could arguably be the most under attack when it comes to casting judgment in parenting.
There are four original parenting styles - authoritative, authoritarian, permission, and unattached. Nowadays, you also have labels like helicopter parenting, free-range parenting, lawnmower parenting, hands-off approach and bulldog mamas. However, lately, we are seeing a rise in authoritative parenting styles. Personally, I think the world has become an increasingly scary place for parents to navigate and this is a way that they can take back control to protect their kids.
Your job, as a parent, is to keep your child safe and part of that is putting into place and enforcing rules to do so.
What are the main “styles” of parenting?
Strict but warm, these parents rule with an iron fist, but their children respect them. The children know their parents are a safe space that they are free to ask or share anything. There is a healthy amount of autonomy awards to the children and the children have immense respect for the parents. These parents are driven by the idea of passing on values to and socializing their children.
Strict and cold, these parents often struggle to grant their children autonomy and therefore is a way of controlling that relationship. These parents are reliable and loving, but can be insensitive. These parents are driven by power and control.
These parents usually show a lack of boundaries and are notorious for setting rules and never enforcing them. Parents who follow a more "hands off" approach generally fall into this category as permissive parents tend to believe in very little adult intervention in children's play or problems. These parents and children often struggle with boundaries as their relationship may resemble more of a friendship than a parent-child relationship.
This relationship involves a cold attachment that gives nothing but also takes nothing, and is an uninvolved parenting style. These parents know very little detail of their child's life and little understanding of choke development. Unfortunately, their children do not weather very well as they generally struggle with behavioral problems and poor mental health.
Authoritative vs. Authoritarian Parenting
These two seem to be the ones that most people confuse, but they are fundamentally different. These two parenting styles create vastly different interactions between parent and child. Authoritative parents discipline to guide and authoritarian parents punish to coerce or control.
Authorial parents often subscribe to the thinking that children are strong-willed individuals and misbehavior is an opportunity to "break the will" of the child. Obedience is a top priority to authoritarian parents and disobedience results in punishment (rather than discipline). They follow a "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" mentality when raising multiple kids. Authoritarian parents sometimes struggle to balance the punishment with positive reinforcement.
Authoritative parents view their children as explorative beings that can be molded with strict rules and consistent love. These parents will adjust their expectations based on each child and understand that children, like adults, have varied abilities. These parents invite their children into discussions rather than telling their children what to do.
Both parenting styles produce high-achieving and well-behaved children. They often result in highly successful and even industry-leading adults. However, one distinct difference between the two is the impact on children's (and eventually adults in society) mental health. Children with authoritarian parents tend to have higher rates of depression, anxiety, and lower self-esteem. The missing link is emotional development.
Which Parenting Style is for You?
Before you try to figure out 'what type of parent' you are, be careful in the words that you use around this topic. Your parenting style does not define you as a parent. Matter of fact, your parents style can change if you decide you are parenting in a way that doesn't feel aligned to your true self. It's also important to know that you may fit into more than one category.
You can change your parenting style at anything in your life and that's the simple truth, but changing your parenting style will require more than just the want to do so. You will need to re-establish boundaries with your children. This will impact your relationship. Remember, humans will naturally resist change. As the adult in the situation, you are responsible for holding that boundary and redefining your relationship to provide a better foundation for your child.
Many times, when parents discover they want a shift in parenting styles, it's rooted in their own emotional intelligence and understanding their child from a developmental standpoint. Once you understand that your child's crying because hey don't have the words to say what they want, you suddenly have a different perspective when interacting with them.
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HeHe Stewart, Birth and Postpartum Doula
HeHe is an experienced Doula, Childbirth consultant and Infant Feeding Specialist.