Parenting Part 1 – “Does how I parent really matter?”

The type of Parenting Style a parent uses can positively or negatively affect a child’s level of confidence, self-worth, sense of security, interaction with peers and authority figures, and sense of self. Research has shown that Parenting Style has been found to predict a child’s well-being in the following domains:

  • social competence,
  • academic performance,
  • psychosocial development,
  • problem behaviors.

Parenting Style captures two important elements of parenting (Maccoby & Martin, 1983):

  • Parental Responsiveness – (love, warmth, supportiveness): Responsiveness is the extent to which parents respond to their child’s needs in an accepting, supportive manner. The nurturance parents offer helps their children feel loved, secure, and cared about. Parental Responsiveness predicts social competence and psychosocial functioning.
  • Parental Demandingness -(discipline, control) Demandingness is the extent to which a parent expects and demands responsible behavior from children.  This dimension includes both setting and enforcing rules and limits. Rules must be clear, reasonable, developmentally appropriate, fair and just, flexible, and emphasize what to do rather just what not to do. Parental Demandingness is associated with instrumental competence and behavioral control (i.e., academic performance and deviance).

Types of Parenting Styles

Baumrind (1967) suggested that the majority of parents display one of three different Parenting Styles.

  • Parents who are equally responsive and demanding
    are Authoritative.
  • Parents who are demanding but not very responsive
    are Authoritarian.
  • Parents who are responsive but not at all demanding
    are Indulgent.

Further research (Maccoby & Martin, 1983) suggested the addition of a fourth Parenting Style.

  • Parents who are neither demanding nor responsive
    are Unengaged.

The above researchers provide the following definitions and outcomes:

  • Authoritative parents nurture, discipline, and respect their children in equal measure.  They set high standards and expectations, consistently enforce rules, and encourage independence. Open communication and the ability to listen are key.  Their parenting is said to be “positive.” Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive.
    • In general, children do better in life if they come from a home in which there is Authoritative parenting. Children from authoritative homes have good self-esteem and self-confidence, and have lower levels of anxiety and depression. They function better socially, academically, and in the work world, and have few, if any, behavioral problems. They tend to become respectful and responsible adults.
  • Authoritarian parents, on the other hand are highly Demanding and directive, but not Responsive. They punish their child(ren) but don’t tend to nurture or respect them. They value obedience and discourage independence. They set strict rules, enforce them harshly and do not like to have their authority questioned.  These parents are often described as “dominating”.
    • Children from Authoritarian homes have both low self-esteem and self-confidence, high levels of anxiety and depression, and tend to have problems interacting with others. Their academic achievement is usually average and they have some behavioral problems. They also have persistent problems with authority.
  • Indulgent parents tend to nurture their children but don’t engage in effective discipline and don’t model or expect respectful behavior.  Although they show love and give attention, they make few demands and set no guidelines or structure for their child(ren).  They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation
    • Children from Indulgent homes have higher self-esteem and self-confidence, and reduced levels of anxiety and depression, but they tend to do poorly at school, show a lot of behavioral problems, and lack respect and responsibility.
  • Uninvolved (Unengaged) parents don’t discipline, nurture, or respect their children. They are generally uninvolved and disinterested in parenting, interacting only minimally with their child(ren).
    • Children from Uninvolved homes in have the worst outcomes as adults. They tend to have low self-esteem and self-confidence, high levels of depression and anxiety, and have poor social skills. They have a lot of behavioral problems, do poorly in school, have little respect for themselves or others, and lack responsibility.

As a parent it is important to expect responsible behavior from your child, set appropriate limits, nurture you child through affection and support, and give your child the opportunity to express his or her thoughts, feelings and beliefs.  For more information on parenting please sign up for our newsletter or check back with our blog site in the near future.

About Steven Petrus

Dr. Steven Petrus is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in psycho-educational assessment, child, adolescent and family therapy.
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