While the relationship within families, and between parent and child are unique and special to each relationship, researchers have been able to determine distinct and separate parenting styles that have historically fallen into four different categories. Previously, parenting styles could be considered permissive, authoritarian, authoritative, and un-involved/neglectful.
The parenting styles were described in terms of warmth, and control or authority. A permissive parenting style is high in warmth, and low in control. An authoritarian parenting style is low in warmth, high in control. The un-involved/neglectful parent is, as you may imagine, low in both domains. For a long time, the authoritative parenting style was considered the ideal, high in warmth, and high in control.
The evaluation of parenting styles, and subsequent outcomes for children and families, is only a few generations old. We also have additional factors to consider, such as divorced or blended families, where multiple parenting styles may exist under one roof. The progression of technology has also increasingly been a part of parenting, and parental control.
Modern parenting styles have a relationship to the original four. Most of the current parenting styles have elements of warmth and control, and the balance for parents continues to walk the line between protection and safety as well as autonomy and growth.
For example, you may have heard of attachment parenting. Attachment parenting suggests that a parent is the expert on their child, programmed by nature to instinctively respond to a child’s needs from day one. Children learn that with a secure relationship full of trust and respect, their needs will be met, and they can learn and grow healthily.
Another parenting style getting a lot of attention is the “helicopter parent,” termed this because of the parents’ tendency to hover over their children, perhaps micromanaging and with reduced boundaries. Critics of this parenting style have pointed to the helicopter trend as reasons why some young adults may experience a failure to launch successfully independence. The latest evolution of the over-involved parent is the lawnmower parent, deemed this because of the parents’ tendency to “mow” over any obstacle or challenge that a child is presented with. This prevents the necessary real world consequences or trial and error that help a child learn, grow, and develop independence.
Another parenting style gaining popularity is the free-range parent. Free-range parents develop independence in their children, wanting to foster personal responsibility and learning from their own life experiences. While there is a fear of the dangers in the world, this type of parenting is not congruent with negligence, as there is still structure and risk management required of a parent. Yet kids do benefit from unstructured time, something that can be increasingly hard to find in today’s world.
For all of the parenting styles that exist, the most important aspect is what works for your family. Each child is different, and a parent’s first responsibility is to meet the child’s needs – whatever works, works! Temperament, personality, and a parent’s own childhood experiences are all facets of the next generation of parenting. For more information on parenting, or support for parents and caregivers, contact us. We can help!