Monday, August 20, 2018

Parenting in the Middle: Not Too Strict, Not Too Lenient

Our society has a tendency to function like a pendulum that swings from one far end to the other. We've seen this happen in schools (we've swing from phonics all the way to whole-reading or we swing from progressive, open-classrooms to "drill and kill."). My work at Montessori For All is about  trying to stop the pendulum in the middle. There are things we need from both sides. 

I've been thinking a lot lately about how the pendulum concept applies to parenting. Past historical periods have seen harsher forms of parenting (like the idea of children being seen but not heard), while now it feels like we are on the way other side of becoming too permissive with our children. 

The framework that has been really helpful to me in thinking about this is Diane Baumrind's theory of the three types of parenting (excerpted below from Wikipedia):
Baumrind believed that parents should be neither punitive nor aloof. Rather, they should develop rules for their children and be affectionate with them, as an authoritative parent. 
Authoritative Parenting 
The parent is demanding and responsive. Authoritative parenting is characterized by a child-centered approach that holds high expectations of maturity. Authoritative parents can understand how their children are feeling and teach them how to regulate their feelings. Even with high expectations of maturity, authoritative parents are usually forgiving of any possible shortcomings. They often help their children to find appropriate outlets to solve problems. Authoritative parents encourage children to be independent but still place limits on their actions. Extensive verbal give-and-take is not refused, and parents try to be warm and nurturing toward the child. Authoritative parents are not usually as controlling as authoritarian parents, allowing the child to explore more freely, thus having them make their own decisions based upon their own reasoning. Often, authoritative parents produce children who are more independent and self-reliant. An authoritative parenting style mainly results when there is high parental responsiveness and high parental demands. 
Authoritative parents will set clear standards for their children, monitor the limits that they set, and also allow children to develop autonomy. They also expect mature, independent, and age-appropriate behavior of children. Punishments for misbehavior are measured and consistent, not arbitrary or violent. Often behaviors are not punished but the natural consequences of the child's actions are explored and discussed--allowing the child to see that the behavior is inappropriate and not to be repeated, rather than not repeated to merely avoid adverse consequences. Authoritative parents set limits and demand maturity. When punishing a child, the parent will explain his or her motive for their punishment. Children are more likely to respond to authoritative parenting punishment because it is reasonable and fair. A child knows why they are being punished because an authoritative parent makes the reasons known. As a result, children of authoritative parents are more likely to be successful, well liked by those around them, generous and capable of self-determination.
Authoritarian Parenting 
The parent is demanding but not responsive.
Authoritarian parenting is a restrictive, punishment-heavy parenting style in which parents make their children follow their directions with little to no explanation or feedback and focus on the child's and family's perception and status. Corporal punishment, such as spanking, and shouting are forms of discipline frequently preferred by authoritarian parents. The goal of this style, at least when well-intentioned, is to teach the child to behave, survive, and thrive as an adult in a harsh and unforgiving society by preparing the child for negative responses such as anger and aggression that the child will face if his/her behavior is inappropriate. In addition, advocates of this style often believe that the shock of aggression from someone from the outside world will be less for a child accustomed to enduring both acute and chronic stress imposed by parents.
Authoritarian parenting has distinctive effects on children: 
  • Children raised using this type of parenting may have less social competence because the parent generally tells the child what to do instead of allowing the child to choose by him or herself, making the child appear to excel in the short term but limiting development in ways that are increasingly revealed as supervision and opportunities for direct parental control decline. 
  • Children raised by authoritarian parents tend to be conformist, highly obedient, quiet, and not very happy.[33] These children often suffer from depression and self-blame.[33]
Permissive Parenting 
The parent is responsive but not demanding.
Indulgent parenting, also called permissivenon-directivelenient or libertarian, is characterized as having few behavioral expectations for the child. "Indulgent parenting is a style of parenting in which parents are very involved with their children but place few demands or controls on them". Parents are nurturing and accepting, and are responsive to the child's needs and wishes. Indulgent parents do not require children to regulate themselves or behave appropriately. As adults, children of indulgent parents will pay less attention to avoiding behaviors which cause aggression in others. 
Permissive parents try to be "friends" with their child, and do not play a parental role. The expectations of the child are very low, and there is little discipline. Permissive parents also allow children to make their own decisions, giving them advice as a friend would. This type of parenting is very lax, with few punishments or rules. Permissive parents also tend to give their children whatever they want and hope that they are appreciated for their accommodating style. Other permissive parents compensate for what they missed as children, and as a result give their children both the freedom and materials that they lacked in their childhood. Baumrind's research on pre-school children with permissive parents found that the children were immature, lacked impulsive control and were irresponsible.
Children of permissive parents may tend to be more impulsive and as adolescents may engage more in misconduct such as drug use. Children never learn to control their own behavior and always expect to get their way. But in the better cases they are emotionally secure, independent and are willing to learn and accept defeat. They mature quickly and are able to live life without the help of someone else.
I've been seeking concrete resources on Authoritative Parenting, and I finally found these books:
I'm eager to read more about it! 

Share |


Amanda @ Click. The Good News said...

I just finished reading the book "Nurture Shock" and each chapter tackles common parenting myths/styles or things about children's development. However, it's a brief overview on various topics & provides tons of the most current scientific studies & research from actually studying kids, not just anecdotal evidence. They talk a lot about how we as parents rush to pick up the latest fad that's not science/evidence based.

I really enjoyed the whole thing, but was fascinated by the chapter on teen rebelling. So much good stuff in there about being firm & flexible, how it's really good for kids to challenge and fight with their parents, and a natural step in developing their own autonomy. Anyway, the book gave me some great insights on discipline and development of social skills.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Amanda! I read that book when I was pregnant with Henry and loved it! I should go back and try it again. Thanks!

Related Posts with Thumbnails