The older we get, the more we hear ourselves saying, “I sound just like my mother.” Some of us may be in denial, but the rest of us, well … we know there’s some truth to it. Regardless of your relationship with your parents, you know that in some way or another, the way they taught you has had at least some influence on how you view the world. Whether you use what they taught you to make sure you do exactly the opposite with your kids or use what they taught you as an example for parenting yourself, the fact is parenting weighs heavily on children.
No One Is Perfect, but Awareness Is Key
Before you start thinking to yourself, “Oh my … I yelled at my kid today for not picking up his toys. Do you think he’ll still be successful?” give yourself a break while you read this article. We all do things we wish we hadn’t, or, when given the chance, would do differently. It’s OK to not be perfect. However, being aware of how the things we do affect our kids is important, for them and for us.
The Four Parenting Styles
In general, you’ll often hear of four different parenting styles. You may identify with one or multiple, but if you haven’t heard of any of them, here’s a quick breakdown:
- Authoritarian ‑ The strictest of the four styles, parents who fall into this category tend to set rules that are to be followed at all times. Nurturing affection is somewhat limited, and communication lines are relatively closed.
- Authoritative – This is seen as the best method, as it involves structure with rules and high expectations, but also allows for mistakes and opinions. Communication lines are open and flowing, and there’s an abundance of love to even out the rules.
- Permissive – Parents who adhere to this style avoid situations that make them or their child uncomfortable or unhappy. There’s more free reign given to their child to determine their own course than in the above styles.
- Uninvolved/Neglectful – Neglectful parenting is the type that is generally uninterested in their children. Oftentimes, this means that some or all of their emotional, physical and mental health needs are not being met.
Beyond the Styles
Parenting styles encompass so much more than the quick rundown above. Often it’s the example we’re setting to our kids by our own behaviors that influence their decisions, whether it’s how often they see us talking on our phone or scanning the Internet, or what kind of meals we choose. As much as we wish we could use the phrase “do as I say, not as I do,” it’s what we do that’s having the most impact. You may want to consider, for example, your technology use. Experts say that technology isn’t a problem for kids, but for parents. Whether it’s the understanding of the technology itself or the lack of rules there are those out there who have a hard time grasping the digital world. When was the last time you answered your phone at a restaurant, or the last time you – dare it be said – sent a quick text at a stoplight? The point is: If you want your kids to be safe with technology, model the behavior yourself. The same is true of eating habits. A recent study indicated that parenting styles can directly correlate to childhood obesity. The example you set or what sort of food rules you adhere to in your household can be direct influencers of your child’s weight and overall health down the line. Authoritarian parents tend to ignore simple signals from their child and force them to adhere to the portions set before them. This leads to overeating, which, in turn, can lead to obesity. What you say and do as a parent matters to your children. Model the behavior you would like to see and you’ll likely get better results.