Raising children is one of the most challenging responsibilities you can take on. There are hundreds of books out there to help you choose from all of the different types of parenting styles.
But in the end, you need to figure out how to be the best parent you can be utilizing the traits you already have.
How you parent can impact the lives of your children. You need to raise them with love, patience, and appropriate boundaries. You are not perfect, and you will make mistakes. If you stay healthy and do your best, your children are more likely to mature into responsible adults.
However, if you have serious unresolved issues from your parents, you will pass on the same problems to your children. But if you are on the path toward healing, your children will have a better chance.
The 4 different parenting styles (and the pros and cons of each one)
You may parent in one of several styles, including authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, or uninvolved. Each of these carries with it the possibility for both benefits and problems.
1. Authoritarian style
Authoritarians have high demands and low responsiveness. This form of parenting is where the parent takes charge and makes sure the child follows their rules. It is strict.
Benefits: This form of parenting has its place in an emergency such as pulling a child out of heavy traffic. It could be pulling a child back when they are about to touch a hot burner. These are the times you need to be direct and clear.
Problems: Using this parenting style all the time can lead to compromising your child’s self-confidence. You expect your child to obey blindly. Thus, your children never learn why certain choices are better than others.
This form of parenting leaves no room for the child to learn how to make their own choices. Your style may push them to do the opposite because they get tired of being told what to do.
Using this heavy-handed model of parenting all the time will destroy the children’s self-worth because you’re demonstrating that they cannot be trusted.
All of us, including children, learn the best from making mistakes. Many kids will become fearful of making mistakes because of the fear of offending Dad and Mom.
2. Authoritative style
Authoritative parenting is characterized by high responsiveness to the children’s needs while having high standards. If you are an authoritative parent, you pay attention to the needs of your children while setting clear boundaries that you keep reinforcing.
Benefits: There are many benefits to authoritative parenting. Children are happy, independent, have excellent social skills, proper emotional regulation, and self-control.
Problems: There seem to be no reported problems to this form of parenting.
3. Permissive style
Permissive parenting can include low demands and high responsiveness. This type of parenting has few rules for their children. They will tend to go along with anything their children desire.
Benefits: Your children will have a lot of freedom to do what they want. You will give your children just about anything they want if you have the money to do it. Your children know they are loved. They have endless examples of their parents doing nice things for them.
Problems: The problem is that these children never have their inappropriate behaviors challenged. They don’t know their boundaries. Some will act out to try and discover their boundaries, as boundaries are something for which children hunger.
4. Uninvolved style
Uninvolved parenting has low demands and low responsiveness. This type of parenting makes few demands on the children, is dismissive of their needs, and often wholly neglectful.
Benefits: Your children will have a lot of freedom.
Problems: If you practice this kind of parenting, you will put your child at significant risk. You offer your children little supervision. You’re emotionally distant from your children. You have few expectations or demands for behavior. You fail to turn up at child-parent interviews at school.
If you are parenting like this, you are likely caught up in your issues and not able to be there for your children.
So how can you use your knowledge of these parenting styles to be the best parent possible for your children? Here are the steps to take:
1. Be aware of your own issues
You need to take 100 percent responsibility for yourself. You are the only one who can change your behavior.
The first step is to become self-aware. It’s learning to observe yourself in action; not easy to learn, but not impossible.
To learn self-awareness is to slow down. To find ways to quiet your mind so you can be as present as possible.
There are many ways to do this, including meditation, prayer, yoga, tai chi, massage, walking, gardening, and anything else that helps you calm down.
You must learn to pay attention to the sensations of your body — perhaps you’ve experienced this as “intuition.” Pay attention to your sensations and they will reveal knowledge.
When you’re open to your body, quiet mind, and open heart, you will be in touch with wisdom that’s available for all of us.
You will begin to observe yourself in action without judging yourself. This knowledge will give you the opportunity to release old ways of being that no longer serve you and discover new behaviors in harmony with your true self.
2. Be flexible with trying different parenting styles
The authoritative model is the best. However, you will find your way of caring for your children.
There will be moments when you must be authoritarian when your child is in danger. There will be moments when you are permissive on a day you are exhausted. On the tough days, you will have moments of being an uninvolved parent.
The important thing is that you try to keep to the authoritative model. There is no one pure form of this model. It’s a matter of maintaining a balance of being responsive to your children’s needs while creating clear, safe boundaries.
3. Make sure your kids know you love them
No matter what style you use, your child needs to know she or he is loved. You need to show it in words, actions, and through appropriate touch.
A child who knows they are deeply loved will be able to face many challenges without being seriously hurt.
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4. You recognize your own needs
You are not perfect. You are going to make mistakes. Learn from them.
If you feel concerned in any way about how your parenting is going or have concerns about your children, seek the help of family, friends, religious leaders, and professionals.
Getting help is a sign of strength and courage. Don’t believe anyone who tells you it is a sign of weakness.
Parenting is probably the most important job you will ever take on. The authoritative parenting model is the healthiest because it’s a balance of being there for children and providing them with healthy boundaries.
Be compassionate with yourself and your children. No one is perfect. When you are tired and stressed you or your children will not make the best choices.
Do your best to stay healthy emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Take time for your self, get plenty of sleep, get enough adult time with your spouse, family, and friends. Make sure you are meeting your own needs.
Make sure your children know they are loved. They need to hear it in words, in the time you spend with them, the care you give them, and through the kindness you show them.
Stay present in your body through learning to slow your mind, pay attention to your sensations, and notice your emotions. When you are grounded, you will know within yourself what you need to do even if that is asking for help.
Roland Legge is a Certified Identity Life Coach and a minister in the United Church of Canada in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. He publishes a newsletter with free advice.
This article was originally published at REL Consultants. Reprinted with permission from the author.