Parenting: Different styles and their effect on your child

“Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.”

-Carl Jung

The above line is by Carl Jung, who was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. What he means by the above line is that you simply cannot tell your child what to do, you must lead by example.

A Parent is a child’s first teacher. Most of the things that your child learned was by observing and imitating you, right? You play a crucial role in the overall development and learning of your child. Learning happens in a very natural way based on the everyday moments that you share with your child. Also, it is a two-way process where both you and your child learn.

Your child learned their first word when you tried speaking to him/her. From that moment, your child learned the language and literacy skills. Your child learned to be confident when you provide ample opportunities to explore around, be it any DIY activity or a collaborative activity with your child. Your constant support in the growing age of a child creates a positive environment for them to nurture.

For this very reason, there are a lot of responsibilities on parents as they are the ones with whom a child spends most of the early years.

What is parenting?

According to the American Psychological Association, parenting practices around the world share three major goals :

  • ensuring children’s health and safety
  • preparing children for life as productive adults
  • transmitting cultural values

A high-quality parent-child relationship is critical for the healthy development of a child. All these above practices comprise the process of parenting.

Every parent follows certain strategies in parenting their child which resulted in the different styles of parenting.

Different parenting styles

Diane Baumrind, a Clinical and Developmental Psychologist in the 1960s conducted a study on more than 100 pre-school-age children. After numerous observations, interviews, and research she suggested the three types of parenting styles. All these styles were different from one another with distinct characteristics. They were categorized on factors like disciplinary strategies, warmth and nurturing communication styles, and control.

Let me tell you the key features of each of these styles. Although the styles are the United States centric and its not clear how they stand cross-culturally.

They are:

1. Authoritarian or Disciplinarian: In this style, parents act majorly as a disciplinarian.

  • Child is expected to obey blindly
  • Very high expectations are set for the child
  • Strict rules are there to follow
  • Conversation is mostly from parent to child
  • Parent is unresponsive

2. Authoritative: Parents are very nurturing and reasonable in this type of style.

  • Parent is supportive and values the independence of the child
  • Very high expectations are set for the child
  • Clear rules are there to follow
  • Conversation is 2 ways, from parent to child and vice versa.
  • Parent is warm and responsive

3. Permissive or Indulgent: In this style, parents let the child do whatever they want.

  • Parent is indulgent in the child’s life
  • Parent is lenient
  • Few or no rules are there to follow
  • Conversation is 2 ways, from parent to child and vice versa.
  • Parent is warm and responsive

4. Uninvolved or Neglectful: Maccoby and Martin, two psychologists in 1983 proposed a fourth style of parenting which is called uninvolved parenting. Its key features are

  • Parent is uninvolved in the child’s life
  • Parent is indifferent towards the child
  • No rules are there to follow
  • Conversation is mostly from child to parent.
  • Parent is cold and unresponsive

The outcome of these styles on your child

Research shows that genetics and the environment have roughly equal influence on human traits. The relationship between you and your child lays the foundation of your child’s personality, behavior, and choices in life. It further adds up to your child’s physical, emotional, and social health. The four styles that I talked about, all have different effects on the child’s behavior according to the research. They are:

  1. Authoritarian or Disciplinarian: It results in a child’s low academic performance, low self-esteem, poor social skills, mental illness, and misconduct.
  2. Authoritative: It results in a child’s high academic performance, high self-esteem, poor social skills, mental illness, and misconduct.
  3. Permissive or Indulgent: Child becomes egocentric, poor social skills, the problem regarding relationships, and has impulsive behavior
  4. Uninvolved or Neglectful: Child shows impulsive behavior, misconduct, and drugs/alcohol addict

What can you do?

It is not a compulsion for you to follow one specific style. You must have realized being a parent, that at some point you might have to take up combinations of different styles which is perfectly fine. There is no hard and fast rule for you to follow. You know your child better than anyone.

To know them even more and strengthen the relationship with your child, you can do these small gestures in day to day interactions.

  • Communicate more often with your child

You might feel that your child is spending the majority of the time with you, then what is the point of communicating? Communicating the feelings with your child will let them get closer to you and will create a safe space for your child to do the same. Don’t push them to share, it will come naturally if you also share.

  • Empathize with the child

“By loving them for more than their abilities we show our children that they are much more than the sum of their accomplishments.”

-Eileen Kennedy-Moore

Try to look at things from a child’s perspective for you to understand your child better. It will help create mutual understanding and respect for one another

  • Spend more time with the child

“Your children need your presence more than your presents.”

-Jesse Jackson

Nowadays children are busy playing digital games with their friends and parents are mostly busy with their work life. Put the technology away and give yourself some break from that busy routine. You can get board games or DIY activities to do with your child. This could be a great way of entertainment and bonding opportunities.

  • Set some rules and boundaries as well

You might be feeling that all these things are fine but there should be some rules in place to have some control. Well, you are right! You will need to provide some structure and guidance. Sit with your child and clearly convey what you expect of them.

I personally feel that we as parents sometimes don’t realize that we are too involved with our work life and don’t have time to spend and know our children. There could also be a time when we don’t realize that we are way too involved and protective of our children. We need to reflect upon ourselves and strike the right balance between these two spectrums.