What's Your Parenting Style?

What's Your Parenting Style?

May 22, 2024

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There are 4 primary parenting styles out there, but they aren’t all completely separate from each other. Like so many other things, they exist on a spectrum. You might fall into different parenting styles in different stages or situations. 

It can be easy for us to judge parents with a different style from our own, but you’ll notice as we go through them that, while we may have tendencies that match most with one style, none of us fits into just one of these categories. 

In this episode, I hope you’ll become more aware of your own parenting style, be a little more understanding of where other parents are coming from and learn to shift your approach closer to where you want it to be.

 

What Is Your Parenting Style?

3 of these parenting styles were identified by developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind in the 1960s. The neglectful parenting style was added later on. 

There will be moments in your parenting where you fall more into one of these styles than others. There will be moments when you will act controlling, permissive or unengaged. It happens to us all.

These periods of time do not make you a bad parent. Our goal is to be aware of how you’re showing up so that you can bring yourself back to where you want to be (the authoritative style). 

 

Authoritarian parenting is like being a dictator or a drill sergeant. This is what I think of as “traditional” parenting. This parent wants a high level of control over their children. There are rules that you must obey, and if you don’t, there are consequences. It’s very direct and doesn’t really take the child’s feelings and emotions into account. There isn’t space for conversations about what is underneath the behavior. 

In this style of parenting, we often see yelling, screaming and spanking, which triggers a fear response in the child. This can change behavior but damage the relationship. Kids raised with this style also tend to have a lot of repressed emotion because they don’t know how to process their feelings. It can show up as hostility, aggression or poor self esteem. 

I don’t believe that any of us really want to act this way. We do it because it’s what we saw when we were growing up. And often, there is some kind of worry or fear beneath it. We worry that a behavior will continue or get worse, that our kid won’t change or grow, that they will somehow not be okay.

 

Indulgent parenting is also known as permissive parenting. It’s really common for parents who don’t want to be in the dictator role to go a little too far in the other direction. In this style, you might have rules, but you don’t really enforce them. Being liked by your kid takes higher priority than being their parent. The truth is, when you follow through on a limit or consequence, your kid is probably going to get upset. That makes it really hard for these parents to enforce consequences. 

In this style, your child might be really connected to you, but they aren’t getting the rules and experiences they need in order to grow. Being too permissive can even impact their health and safety when it comes to things like getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, brushing their teeth or wearing shoes so they don’t hurt their feet. And if they aren’t expected to do school work, practice their instrument, stick to a sports team, etc. they might also miss out on opportunities to grow, learn and become who they’re meant to be. 

In a child-centered style like this one, kids also often struggle with disappointment, boredom, working with others and not getting their way. They’re missing out on the chance to build emotional resilience and learn to self soothe and self regulate. 

 

Neglectful parenting sounds pretty harsh, but this is where the parent is uninvolved and disengages or detaches from the child. It’s an attitude of, “I don’t care what happens.” This can come up when a parent is overwhelmed and they think that the situation or behavior is too much for them to handle. There is no connection and no limits or consequences.

This can also happen when there are other intense emotional experiences, like deaths, happening in the parent’s life. It can stem from illness, mental health issues or struggles with drugs or alcohol. These parents are rarely uninvolved because they don’t care. They are simply struggling to take care of themselves, and they don’t have the capacity to take care of someone else.

 

Authoritative parenting is the gold standard. This is what we’re working toward. It combines boundaries and consequences with connection. It’s less about being the authority and more about having the authority with your child and being a leader. 

We want our kids to feel really safe with us and to know that we are guiding them. They want to feel like you understand the world and that you’re going to take care of them. For this to work, you have to believe that their thoughts and feelings matter and that your relationship with them. is important. These parents approach limits and consequences thoughtfully and respectfully. 

When something isn’t going the way you want, you can take a step back, get clear on where the breakdown is and set boundaries with more confidence. You start to feel like you can handle it. You can help your children learn and grow. 

The benefits of this style are huge. Your child has a good relationship with themself because they understand their thoughts and feelings. They have a good relationship with you because you have nurtured that connection and validated their feelings. And they have good relationships with others because you've taught them how to consider the effects that their behavior has on other people. Your kid becomes respectful and responsible, manages their aggression and develops high self esteem and self regulation. 

 

How To Manage Your Parenting Style

The first step to a more authoritative parenting style is to simply notice what style you are using in different situations. If you catch yourself being controlling, mean or detached, just notice it. 

Below are some ways to start shifting away from authoritarian, indulgent/permissive or neglectful parenting and toward a more connected authoritarian parenting style. 

If you find yourself getting more strict or harsh than you want, focus on connection. Ask yourself, “Why am I acting this way? What am I worried about?” When you figure out what you're worried about, the limits, boundaries and consequences become more clear. You can slow down a little and come at it from a more calm, authoritative place. 

If you find yourself being consistently permissive, look at where the gap is for you. Are you tired and overwhelmed? Do you need practice with setting limits? Are you uncomfortable following through on consequences? Find the source of the issue, and you can work on it. You can make a plan to take a break and take care of yourself. And I can help you learn how to set clear limits and follow through on consequences that make sense. 

If you’re going through a really tough emotional time or illness, and you’re feeling detached, put your energy toward caring for yourself and getting calm. Allow other people to love you and your kid. This was a big one for me when 3 people very close to me died within 3 years. I let my husband step in and do more of the parenting. And my kids became more resilient for it. Reach out, get some support and get back to where you are okay so that you can care for your child. Start by focusing on connection without as much concern for limits and consequences in the beginning. Heal, connect and the rest will follow.

I invite you to reflect on where you are right now on this spectrum, and use your observations as hints to where you can put your energy to get back to that authoritative style.

If you are in a detached space, I want you to get some support. Reach out to me. Reach out to a therapist or your partner or somebody in your life who can help. Your kids need you. They love you, and they want you to be well.

Mama, be gentle with yourself. Be curious about how you’re showing up without judging yourself. I know that you’re doing the best you can. 

 

You’ll Learn:

  • The 4 main parenting styles, and how to recognize when you are using each one
  • The benefits of authoritarian parenting
  • How to shift away from being overly strict, permissive or detached and get to a more connected and healthy space with your child

Ready to stop yelling?

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