What Parenting Style Are You?


Every person has their own style and beliefs about raising their children. There are many factors that go into developing these convictions, but one of the biggest is how you were parented. You may parent just like your parents; maybe you do the opposite. Either way, it is important to take some time to reflect on the parenting style your parents used and realize how it has affected your own parenting. If you are following in the footsteps of great parents, then you are starting with a good foundation. And if you realize you're using some-or all- of the same parenting techniques that were harmful to you as a child, remember: You have a choice. It will require you to stop, think, and intentionally choose to parent differently, but you can change.

Some of us come from homes with the strict parents who had the "You Better Obey or Else" philosophy. Some of us come from homes where parents used very little discipline or structure in raising us and acted more as a friend than a parent. Some of us come from loving, balanced homes. Some of us, for one reason or another, had very little parental involvement, whether it was because we were home alone or our parents were so emotionally distant it was like they weren't there, even if they were physically in the room. And unfortunately, some of us have come from abusive homes.

No matter our background, how we were raised affected us-sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. Oftentimes, it's a bit of both. We may have deep-seated resentment toward our parents; we may be extremely grateful for them. Some find ourselves parenting just like our parents did-even if we don't want to-because that is the only way we know. Some of us go to the extreme opposite of our parents. To complicate things even further, our spouse or significant other had their own background and parenting philosophy, which may or may not be in line with our own.

Each of you has a story-your story. Your parents do, too, which affected how they raised you. However, the good news is that though the past affects you, it does not determine your future. Dysfunction can be passed from generation to generation, but it doesn't have to be. That cycle can be broken, and new pathways can be taken.

Four Types of Parenting

There are two key aspects foundational to parenting: love and discipline. Children need to know they are loved; they also need boundaries and discipline (instruction, teach, guide) in order to learn and grow. Various combinations of these aspects create four unique parenting styles illustrated below.

To understand this chart, think of the two foundational aspects of parenting as each having their own scale ranging from low to high. The horizontal line represents the amount of parental love that is visible and recognizable by the children, with the low levels of love on the left and the high levels on the right. The vertical line measure the amount of discipline used by parents, with low levels on the bottom and high levels on the top. Depending on how much love and discipline is utilized by a parent, that parent's style will fall generally into one of four main categories:

Authoritarian- Parents who use a lot of discipline but do not show a lot of love.

Uninvolved- Parents who use little discipline but also show little love.

Permissive- Parents who do now use much discipline but show a lot of love.

Authoritative- Parents who use a lot of healthy discipline in raising their children but also show a lot of love to their children.

You may not fit perfectly in one box, but you will likely more often fall in one category. No matter where you are today, recognizing where you are and why you parent the way you do is the first step to becoming the parent you want to be!

There is no one and perfect way to parent, but research has shown that children thrive best in a balanced authoritative home.

What were your parents' parenting styles?

What is your parenting style?

What is your significant other's parenting style?

**excerpt taken from the book, Parenting Sensibly: Turning messes into successes by Lynda Satre.

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