With so much recently being written and discussed about parenting styles, I thought it would be interesting to summarize what I’ve read and get a sense of what my own personal style has been and get an inkling of what my style may become. On top of that, since this is a Dad blog, I’m looking at the fatherhood angle in particular, because I find that the role of Dad can have its own nuances that differ from the token ‘parenting’ style.
It’s been said that there are four primary styles of parenting all based off of what’s referred to as Baumrind’s Parenting Typology: Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive (Indulgent), and Uninvolved (Neglectful). Even our ‘new generation’ of parenting styles, still relies on these as the fundamental principles.
Authoritarian parents are very strict and controlling – picture the old school Don Draper circa 1960’s parent who has the need for obedience. They’re big believers in clearly stated rules and if their kids don’t step in line and act as directed, they will be punished.
Permissive parents, while often warm and accepting, make few demands on their children. They very much take a back seat and let the child’s creativity and sense of self blossom by ensuring that they don’t interfere. The permissive parent is the one who tries to be more friend than parent, avoids confrontation, and is generally more nurturing and communicative.
The uninvolved parent asks for nothing and gives almost nothing in return, except near-absolute freedom. This style is practically non-responsiveness, and is even referred to as neglect.
While keeping authority and control, these parents are warmer and more communicative than Authoritarian parents. Authoritative parents look for a balance between their children’s need for autonomy and the parents’ desire to be respected and listened to. These parents walk the line of being demanding and responsive. For children who fail to meet the authoritative parent’s expectations, the parent is more nurturing, forgiving and responsive. Their idea of discipline is to be assertive but not restrictive, to support rather than punish.
Tough call eh?… I think we all know what we ought to be striving for.
Not that you’d doubt it, but it’s even documented proof that children of Authoritative parents typically do well in school, develop good social skills, and avoid problem behaviours.
So there you have it. Problem solved. You would think that this list more than satisfies the spectrum of parenting styles and immediately demonstrates how new parents need to adopt the Authoritative style with their children, as there is no other way….
But wait! Of course, modern day parenting would not be what it is, without a strong need to rebrand and relabel.
And with that, I bring you the New Generation Styles:
This can be called the old school method of parenting, wherein an instinctive parent teaches what they know and parents the way they were parented, whether brought up by their mother and father, siblings or another caregiver. It might be the old adage, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, or as Paul Simon put it, ‘I know what I know.’
In attachment parenting, the parent and the child form a strong emotional bond and respond to their child’s needs while being sensitive and emotionally available for their child at all times. This is a super strong attachment, and this type of parenting is usually aligned with folks who often believe in natural childbirth, a family bed, avoidance of corporal punishment, homeschooling and may even be part of the anti-vaccination movement.
This is the one that’s been making headlines, as science continues to find faults in helicopter parenting and the long term affects on children. Helicopter parents constantly interact with and often interfere with their children’s lives, hovering like a helicopter. It’s an action that totally makes sense when you’re trying to ensure the safety and security of babies and very young children, but in later years, smothering your child in every aspect of their life can ultimately backfire. Helicopter parents rarely let their children out of their sight, but unlike attachment parenting, it isn’t to form a strong bond with their child, it’s an attempt to prevent any challenges or obstacles in their child’s life that they can foresee, therefore “preserving” their childhood. Stories of mums calling their child’s employers or college professors, are perfect examples of helicopter parenting gone awry.
Free-range parenting is the exact opposite of helicopter parenting where parents want to allow kids to have some freedom without constantly worrying something bad will happen. Free-range parents let their children walk to school alone and ride their bikes outside without supervision. In extreme cases, some parents have even reported allowing their very young children to grocery shop and ride public transportation alone. This is how kids used to be raised, but mind you, it was in a very different world.
This parenting term was coined in the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by self-proclaimed tiger mum Amy Chua. Tiger parents are strict, expect their children to follow rigid rules, and demand excellence in academics. The term stems from the idea that tigers are a symbol of strength and power, and generally inspire fear and respect. It’s reminiscent of authoritarian parenting, but perhaps with a more regimented purpose.
Still know which parenting style you want to adopt?
Perhaps you’re a fan of letting your kid be independent, but not until he’s at least 15. Before then, you’re going to hound him to be committed at school and get perfect A’s to ensure his entry into the best of colleges after high school. And of course, you will be super attentive and hover over your son from infancy until at least age 10…
So what are you? A free range tiger in a helicopter??
What exactly has this modern day interpretation done then? Expanding our labeling abilities, or confused a generation of new parents with silos and one-size-does-not-fit-all parenting models.
I watched a video by Dr. Stephan Poulter the other day, and he put into perspective another key finding that really encouraged me to write this blog entry. Dr. Poulter is a licensed clinical family psychologist based out of Los Angeles with nearly 30 years under his belt. He’s studied and written about the five most common fathering styles (super achiever, time bomb, passive, absent, and compassionate/mentor) and the impact fathers have on their child’s future relationships and career development.
Now we’re talking – here’s how he explains these styles:
The super achiever is someone who for the most part, probably did not get enough love from their own father. This dad has a biting, competitive edge; he is constantly critical and hostile to his son, implying that one’s value is all about what you do and how well you do it, not about who you are.
The time bomb dad really rules the family by fear; the fear of not knowing whats going to set him off, or when. Poulter calls it “parenting by volume – not by connection”.
The passive dad shows his love through actions, not through words. There is often a missing feeling of connection based on the fact that feelings were always assumed, but never stated.
Absent – Fatherless
The absent style can be literal but more often is psychological. Sons of absent dads find it difficult to form trusting relationships and it creates rage within them. Daughters can have a tendency of feeling desperation because of it. Sixty percent of dads fall into the absent or passive categories and most kids who abuse alcohol or drugs are most often children of this type of father.
Lastly, the compassionate mentor style, wherein these dads provide an emotionally safe upbringing yet encourage their kids to think for themselves. There is a capacity to tolerate difference, and these dad’s help you see your life for what it is and where it can go.
So there we have it. Parenting styles and all their glories, with a side of fatherhood specificity.
So what does that make me? What would I call myself in terms of my own personal approach?
First and foremost, I think that there are elements of my own upbringing that have been instrumental in my becoming a decent, upstanding person. My parents did a lot of things right with the way they raised me, and I will ensure I echo that methodology with Charlee.
I know that I will also push to form a strong emotional bond with Charlee, to ensure that she knows that she is loved and is safe.
For now, I’m very involved in everything Charlee does, and I want to ensure that she is happy, healthy, and nothing will interfere with that.
I want to also give her the foundation to become self sufficient and explore this world, taking in all of it and learning independently.
Once she finds her passion, I want her to be an expert at it and not treat something with that degree of importance inadequately.
And lastly, I will undoubtedly strive to be a compassionate, mentoring father, hoping to instil all the positivity in the world to Charlee, while at once encouraging her to become an independent, contributing, and active member of society.
So in the spirit of artistic freedom, let’s coin it, shall we?
I’ve come up with “Compassionate FAITH Parenting”, standing for:
Compassionate, Free range, Attachment, Instinctive, Tiger, Helicopter Parenting
That’s pretty catchy, eh? I’m sure it’ll stick!