WHAT KIND OF PARENT ARE YOU?
I’m sure you’ve heard this before: “Some people shouldn’t be allowed to have kids. There should be a class you have to take first. I mean, after all, you even have to take classes to get a driver’s license!”
Where do we learn how to parent? And what are the different types of parenting?
Learning to Parent
There are four main ways we learn how to parent.
- Our own parents. Some of us had great parents. We knew they loved us but we also knew what the rules were. Others were less fortunate. Their parents may have been too permissive, unloving or even abusive. Most people tend to become the kind of parents they had unless they work diligently to do otherwise.
- Watching others. Grandparents, neighbors, parents of our young friends, and even teachers provided examples of ways to guide and instruct others. Again, some good and others not so good.
- Asking for expert advice. There are countless parenting videos and books, as well as counselors and parent educators that can answer our questions.
- On-the-job training. As the years go by, we hopefully will learn from our mistakes.
What is Your Style of Parenting?
There are four main types of parents.
- Permissive Parents: These parents want to be close to their children – even to the extent of being their friends. Their desire for this results in homes with few rules and parents who give in to their children to make them happy. Since they are not used to following rules, these young people rebel against anyone who tries to tell them what to do – teachers, police, and employers. If they get in trouble, their parents rush to the rescue. Sadly, this often results in adults with life-long habits of breaking rules and disrespecting people of authority.
- Uninvolved Parents: Like permissive parents, these parents have few to no rules. The difference is that they show little warmth and love towards their children. It could be because the parents are stressed out by financial, health or other problems. It could also be because they simply became exhausted with their children’s disobedience and eventually gave up trying to be in charge. Again, we have children who have too much freedom and become the victims of their own immaturity and impulsivity.
- Authoritarian Parents: Authoritarian parents run their homes with strict rules and show little affection for their children. They want obedience more than closeness. Some of the children in these homes become very rebellious and show it through the way they dress, act and speak.. Others may never try to become independent and end up relying on mom and dad for the rest of their lives.
- Authoritative Parents: Parents who are authoritative show affection to their children while still providing clear boundaries. They explain their decisions and invite feedback. Children learn responsibility through household chores and eventually privileges increase to match their maturity level. Meals together and fun times are frequent. These children feel valued, safe and loved. They have no problem following the rules at school and work and, therefore, find it easier to become successful as adults.
Is it Too Late to Change?
There is always time to improve your parenting. Check out local parenting classes, read books or work with a parenting expert. I guarantee you – this will be time well spent!
Karen Wrolson, MS, MEd
Stein Counseling and Consulting Services, Ltd.