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baumrind_parenting_stylesWhat Style of Parent Are You?

It's by far the worst part of supermarket shopping: the screaming kid in the next aisle whose mother just can't handle him. We wince for both parent and child, but still we can't help but think, "Why doesn't she know how to deal with this?" These supermarket outbursts and other misbehaviors may have to do with a vital difference in parenting style.

1960's psychologist Diana Baumrind was the first to advance theories about parenting styles. There are three Baumrind parenting styles: authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative. Baumrind categorized the styles based on two factors, how responsive the parent is to the child’s needs and how much the parent demands from the child.

Parenting: Too hard, Too Soft or Just Right?

Other psychologists have adopted Baumrind's system as a way of categorizing parenting style. According to Baumrind authoritarian, permissive and authoritative parents act in very different ways and tend to produce very different children.

Authoritarian Parenting Style: This parenting style is demanding of children and less responsive to their needs. Authoritarian parents typically allow for very little give-and-take with their children. They set up strict, absolute rules that must be followed, and they don't always explain the rationale for these rules. Instead, they simply expect obedience. Children raised in this strict environment tend to have less social competence than others because they are used to being told what to do. These children are also more likely to run away from home or rebel because they feel they simply cannot deal with their parents' rules.

Permissive Parenting Style: These parents demand little of children and are very responsive to their needs. There are few expectations of the child in this parenting style, and children are largely allowed to do whatever they want. Permissive parents tend to be very involved in their children's lives yet also very indulgent when it comes to bad behavior. In short, this is what creates spoiled brats. Children raised in this style can be impulsive and are more likely to engage in inappropriate behaviors.

Authoritative Partenting Style: Authoritative parents are both demanding and responsive. They expect their children to behave maturely and appropriately. When the child misbehaves, the parent will take the time to explain to them why they are being punished and what they should do differently in the future. They rely more on explanation and teaching than on true punishment. This style expects children to learn to work through their feelings and to communicate with others. Typically, this style will produce children with high self-esteem and independence.

These Baumrind parenting styles show a spectrum of ways to raise children. Keep in mind that no parent will fit into any one of these groups all the time. Even if we try to be authoritative, there are some moments when an authoritarian style is called for, or when you can't stop yourself from falling into permissive parenting. That's ok! Though authoritative looks best on paper, it may not be best for your child right now. Try to remain responsive to your child's needs, while not being a doormat.
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