Parenting – as we all know can be tricky to navigate. A common piece of advice that we see given a lot is to work out what style or methods of parenting will suit you best, but is this the best way to go about things?
So before we go deciding what type of parent we are, or whether or not that’s a good question to ask to begin with, what are the parenting styles? We sat down with parenting expert Michelle Mitchell to find answers.
First off is the authoritative parent. They run a tight ship, they enforce rules, and they discipline their children when those rules are not followed. This is a style of parenting that has been particularly pervasive in Australian culture, and for some families it works quite well – but as Michelle points out whilst it has short term results it may not work in the long run “So you might get the dishes put away really quickly but then you’ll see maybe an older man in his thirties going for a job interview and hes got a script playing in his head and that script is the script that his dad would yell at him quite often. It gets quick results but it hasn’t done his self esteem any good.” This is something that Michelle talks about a lot throughout the types of parenting. Whilst they may seem to work in one area, they fall short in others. Michelle also makes a very clear distinction between authoritative and authoritarian parenting, one that is shared by other experts in the field. Whilst the authoritarian parent uses their power as a reaction to most things the authoritative parent understands their authority as a parent and uses it wisely and carefully. The latter of the two still uses the power and control of the first but in a way that preserves the trust and respect of the child.
I think it’s a real mistake to think that there’s one type of parenting style or one thing that works for all kids.
Next, on the other end of the spectrum is the laid back parent. This parent is permissive or really indulgent, giving their child and letting them do whatever they desire. Whilst this can be quite liberating for both parent and child Michelle points out that this type of parenting can lead down a slippery slope to spoiling your child – “So you see kids that might have a lot of stuff, the parents are very indulgent so saying yes to a lot of things. So if a kid cries we say yes to them by giving them whatever they want. Then the flip-side of that is that we can end up with very spoilt kids who aren’t very resilient and don’t know how to hear no”. So once again what initially seems like a good ideal of parenting to embody can lead to problems down the line in the child’s life and yours.
What if neither of these two really describe how you handle your child your child – because you’re too busy. Maybe your partner does much of the parenting or Maybe you just don’t have the closest relationship with your child. These are hallmarks of the uninvolved parent. According to Michelle these parents will “avoid the tension or conflict in homes when kids really need them to move on in and be engaged. So you think of it like this, maybe a dad who hears his daughter getting upset about something and he just puts the newspaper up.” Some parents believe that this form of parenting fosters independence in the child, however you end up missing out on having a close relationship with your child – based on mutual respect and familiarity with one another.
we are uniquely graced to raise our own kids and we do it consciously to the best of our abilities
Types can be a good way to describe to each other and ourselves what type of parent we feel like we tend to be, or want to be more like. However in the end trying to fit ourselves into neat little boxes of what our parenting style we are is a real mistake. There isn’t going to be one type of parenting style or one thing that works for all kids (or all parents for that matter!). For example some parents be quite hard on their kids especially in sporting capacities, for example sports coaches can have quite a lot of discipline around their kids. They know that line of what their kids can and cant handle and how far to push them. Then of course it doesnt work with other children and their personality styles not handle it. “I think the ideal is that we are uniquely graced to raise our own kids and we do it consciously to the best of our abilities. Were going to give them the very best of who we are. And were always learning and growing and changing. We’re always going to have tendency one way or another. Some people are going to have more of a tendency to be more dominant and authoritative and others are going to have more tendency to be more relaxed.”
Its that consciousness and awareness of who you are as a person and who your kids are that will help you find the methods of parenting that work best for your family. Part of that is recognizing the good and the bad in the different ideals of parenting, and mixing and matching to find the best fit for you. For more from Michelle and her parenting tips, visit her website here!