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Parenting Styles

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

“That’s how it was back then,” or “that was how I was raised” are common responses that I’ve heard from people who still use toxic methods of parenting. 

Today we are discussing parenting styles.

There are many excuses that people use to disregard abusive and neglectful parenting - if we can even call that parenting. The most common excuse that I hear has been the fact that people use the phrase, “Back when I was a child, they didn’t have what they have today.” 

That can be very true. We can’t expect people to know what they didn’t have access to, but if you are a parent with children now, there are many resources. There are many psychological studies and research articles that support different parenting styles that are more effective than what was previously the norm. 

We can’t hold onto outdated techniques that aren’t effective and instill fear or uninvolvement instead of respect, boundaries, structure, empathy, guidance, and love. We have to acknowledge what hasn’t worked and grow from this. What hurt us when we were children? What do we wish was different about our upbringing? We need to strive for the new generation to surpass the previous one and make the necessary changes so our society is better than it was before. 

I’ve seen many parents cringe at the term “gentle parenting” because they think it means that the child will always get their way, that the parent gives the child all control, and the parent just lets their child do whatever they want.  

No. That’s not what it means at all. Gentle parenting is being misrepresented as permissive parenting or even as uninvolved parenting, which are two parenting styles that have harmful or negative results on children.

Let’s talk about parenting styles. There are four main parenting styles. Sometimes parents border two or more styles at the same time or each parent has a different style that they think is best or parents parent each child differently, which is very common in a scapegoat-golden child dysfunctional family dynamic. 

In 1960, Diana Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist, coined the authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive parenting styles. Later on, Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin added the uninvolved/neglectful parenting style in 1983.

What is permissive parenting?

Permissive parenting is a child-driven parenting style. The parents rarely or never enforce rules or boundaries. The parents overindulge their children to “keep the peace” and to keep their child happy to avoid parent-child conflict. This is the parenting style where the children always get their way. Bad behavior is not corrected. It is instead accepted and the parents adapt to the child’s bad behavior. 

Permissive parenting is dangerous in many ways. It sets the child up for entitlement, it teaches the child that they do not have to respect or listen to authority figures or respect anyone’s boundaries or opinions. 

What is uninvolved parenting?

Uninvolved parenting is just like it sounds- it is uninvolved and neglectful. Parents do not meet their children’s basic needs in either physical, emotional, or both ways. Children are left to fend for themselves as their parents are dismissive or indifferent. 

This parenting style clearly has negative effects on children and often makes it hard for those children later on in life. These parents often are preoccupied with their own adult issues to focus on any need their child has, do not show warmth and love to their children, and don’t typically attend school events, parent-teacher conferences, or extracurricular activities their child is involved with. They do not set standards or 

boundaries and the children of these parents do not have any guidance or supervision. 

What is authoritarian parenting?

Authoritarian parenting is a very strict parenting style that often uses fear-based tactics. This parenting style is often referred to as militaristic. It places extremely high expectations on the child while the parent focuses on obedience, control, and discipline - which many parents confuse and use punishment instead of discipline in this parenting style. 

Parents in this parenting style are about control. They do not feel the need to explain anything to their children and do not allow children to “back talk” which in my opinion “back talking” is not something done to be disrespectful. Children and adolescents may not know why they are being told to do certain things. They do not have adult brains. They are learning and they are mimicking what they see. The tone the parent uses with the child is often what the parent will receive. 

Phrases like:

“Do as you’re told.”

“Because I said so.”

“I’m the parent.”

Are common for parents who use authoritarian parenting. Authoritarian parents are not typically nurturing and they punish mistakes. This parenting type uses yelling and corporal punishment as their discipline. 

What is authoritative parenting?

Authoritative Parenting is also more recently known as gentle parenting, responsive parenting, and positive parenting. 

Parents who use this parenting style are nurturing, responsive, and supportive, but set firm and consistent boundaries for their children. Parents attempt to control children's behavior by explaining rules, discussing, and reasoning. These parents will listen to their child's viewpoint but don't always accept it when they do know that the child is wrong. These parents guide their children and use empathy to understand their children. 

Authoritative parenting has been the most desired and is reported as the most effective parenting style. 

Discussing parenting styles is important when we have been raised in dysfunction - when we are survivors of familial abuse. It’s important that we learn to break the cycle of toxicity by having available resources for parenting and having a healthy family of your own.

What parenting styles did you grow up with?

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