Psychology has always fascinated me since as far back as I can remember. One reason I received my doctorate in psychology was to not only help other parents, children, and families, but to also understand and make sense out of my own parents and family dynamics. Two years ago I taught my first university course on Parent Child Therapy. I assigned my Master’s and Doctoral level students a book by Dr. John Gottman called Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child. In his book, he outlined four different parenting styles: The Dismissing Parent (The Uninvolved Parent), The Disapproving Parent (The Authoritarian Parent), The Laissez-Faire Parent (The Permissive Parent), and The Emotion Coach (The Authoritative Parent).
Parenting styles are relevant and important because they partially influence a child’s development, but keep in mind there are other social and biological factors like a child’s culture, personality, temperament, birth order, and social influences that also should be considered. This blog is simply meant to educate without judgment or shame. As parents, we do the best we can under so many different challenges and circumstances that sometimes help and or hinder the way we parent. Our parenting styles can even slightly vary from day to day. Some obstacles are out of our control, but it helps to be mindful of how we parent and how we respond to our children, and in turn, how they respond to us. As a parent myself, I understand that sometimes we get so wrapped up in our day to day routines, we often do not even think of our parenting styles and how they may affect our children and their development until we take a moment to stop and reflect. I hope you find this information as fascinating as I do!
Which parenting style are you? You may be one distinct style or you may be a combination depending on the day! Your parenting style may even evolve over time with each child born into your family and or based on your age when you gave birth and develop differently as you get older. And if something strikes you that you do not like about the parenting habits you have created, remember you can change your parenting style. Parenting is an evolving process. It’s never too late to learn new tools and techniques and other mamas, like myself, are here to support you! Notice one of the parenting styles doesn’t say perfect parent? It’s because none of us are perfect. We have good days, better days, and worse days.
Parenting is the most difficult job I have ever had. As a parent, you are responsible for another human being’s life. That is a lot of responsibility and pressure. You spend almost every moment of your life dedicating to pouring your heart and soul into your children in every way possible. And it is a 24/7 job that literally never ends because even when your children become adults, you still have a relationship with them, guide them, love them, and worry about them! Parents are under a microscope these days to make the best decisions for their children, to meet milestones, to perform well in school, to discipline in a socially appropriate way, all without being shamed by other parents that do it all differently. I never really was aware or fully comprehended how much went into parenting until I became a parent myself. And I certainly did not know how different parenting styles could be until my friends started having kids and I started going on play dates and observing and learning from other parents. Give yourself a pat on your back mamas. You have the hardest job in the world and sometimes its about survival and forgiving ourselves for the moments we are human and aren’t up to our own ideals. Remember tomorrow is another day.
The Dismissing Parent (The Uninvolved Parent): This parenting style is characterized by giving few demands of the child, showing little interest in communicating with the child, minimizing a child’s emotions, and has fairly low responsiveness with their child. These parents provide basic needs of their children like food, shelter, and clothing; yet they are detached from their child’s life. In extreme cases, these parents might even neglect or reject certain needs of their children. Children raised in this home environment often have difficulty regulating their emotions, have a low self image, are less competent than peers, and rank lowest in happiness. Children sometimes feel like their feelings are wrong, inappropriate, and not valid.
The Disapproving Parent (The Authoritarian Parent): This parenting style often sets strict rules and extreme behavior expectations of their children. Children that do not follow these rules are often reprimanded and punished. These parents have high demands and are often not emotionally responsive to their child. This parenting style may even judge or criticize their child’s emotions. This parenting style is most concerned with obedience. Children raised in this type of home environment are often obedient but report being less happy, socially competent and have a lower self-image.
The Laissez-Faire Parent (The Permissive Parent): This parenting style has few demands of their children and often do not discipline their children. These parents are often nurturing toward their children, communicate regularly with their children and are often a “friend” rather than a “parent.” This parenting style typically is open to accept all emotional expression of their children yet provides little guidance on behavior. There are often blurred limits and children are often given no direction, help, or guidance. Children raised in this home environment are particularly less happy and self-regulated. These children are often more likely to have problems with authority figures and perform poorly in school, including not getting along with peers, concentrating, and forming friendships.
The Emotion Coach (The Authoritative Parent): This parenting style establishes rules and behavior expectations for their children and also is very responsive, patient, and spends time communicating effectively with their children. This parenting style values and respects their child’s emotional expression and has a high tolerance of emotional expression. If a child does not follow directions, these parents are often more forgiving, understanding, and nurturing than punishing and criticizing. These parents are supportive yet still expect their children to respect and behave. This parenting style is often seen as supportive rather than punitive. Children raised in this home environment are generally happy, capable, and successful. These children learn to trust their feelings, regulate their own emotions, and solve their own problems. These children often have a high self-image and many peers.
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