I had the unfortunate experience this weekend of listening to a mum screaming at her young child to stop shouting at her in the middle of a busy shop. The irony of shouting loudly in order to reduce the volume of the shouting child was clearly lost on mum. Don’t get me wrong, we all have the urge to let go and release the inner demon when our children are pushing those buttons. What has really helped my parenting style is knowing the legacy I am leaving my children with and what will give them their most resilient future. We try to develop a consistent, containing and regulated approach with them and one where we have mutual respect.
Remaining authentic with your children has considerable learning value for them. They need to know you feel anger, disappointment and just plain frustration. They are looking to you for lessons in how to deal with those emotions for themselves. If you can demonstrate positive ways of dealing with difficult feelings, they are all the more equipped for future challenges themselves.
There are generally agreed three types of parenting styles although in reality I think we waiver between them dependant on how we are feeling. A permissive parenting style, is one where anything goes. You know who you are – mother of two checking your phone whilst your boys swing out the top window of the café! Think long summer days of the children entertaining themselves. Largely signalled by parents being ‘un-involved’ this style has little demands on the child and therefore conflict is at a minimum. Whilst parents with this style can be emotional warm, the issue with this style is that children who expect to be able to do exactly as they please will struggle with rules and boundaries. A bit of a difficult one to avoid in todays society.
The autocratic parenting style is one with lots of rules and high demands. There is usually little discussion about what is going to happen and why these demands are important and parents tend to be lower on emotional warmth preferring a telling style. The difficulty with operating in this mode all the time is that children are less likely to be able to think for themselves and either rebel against the control (usually at teenage years) or are more likely to be influenced by negative peer relationships.
So what do you need to aim for? An authoritative parenting style is more democratic and scores high on warmth. Setting clear standards but explaining why these are necessary. Discussing and adjusting plans as appropriate but also not being afraid of being in charge and making the decisions. Respect on both sides is key.
So how you can you tell which your style is? Signs of an authoritative parent:
- How often do you take your child’s wishes and feelings into account?
- Do you encourage your child to talk about their feelings?
- Do you try to help and support your child when they are upset or scared?
- Do you discuss reasons with your child about why you have made a certain decision or expect something?
- Can you keep calm and express appropriate emotion?
Why do I think this is important? Authoritative parenting has been shown to lead to helpful, kind and popular children. They are more likely to listen to you as their parents than their peers and less likely to suffer difficulties such as anxiety, depression or engage in difficult behaviours. If they do have issues, they bounce back as you have given them a strong and resilient foundation.
The important thing to remember is that none of us get it right all the time. Adopting an authoritative style most of the time is good enough and knowing how to repair any difficulties will be a good lesson for your children in the future. One of the best things I can say to my children? I’m sorry- I got it wrong.
If you are worried about your parenting style or feel you need some help or support to get it right please contact us at The Arden Centre on 01926 298780 or firstname.lastname@example.org where we would be happy to help.