Parental guidance can mean a broad range of things. So, let’s get on the same page! This is a quick 101 on how to find the style of parenting YOU most love and resonate with. It will help you understand buzz words in parenting styles, and even find the pros of each so you can even mix and match to create what works best in your home! I can’t wait for you to see how EASY parenting ideas are, and finding just the thing you most need to love your children, connect with them, and be an amazing parent. Let’s begin!
Parenting usually happens from how we remember growing up and how our mom and dad raised us. It’s our default for how to raise kids- the way we were raised. We can take all the good our families instilled in us and pass that down to our own kids. However, there are a few problems with this. First, our perspective may be skewed toward a LOT of good or a LOT of bad. So we’re reacting to what we remember. If we ask siblings if they remembered events or people the same, often they have different accounts of the same situation. So, we’re actually parenting from what we “think” happened.
Secondly, we were very young to remember a lot of the details of how we were treated. We rarely remember the first years of our lives and most memories we have don’t really begin filling in until the age of 5 or so. We have years that we can’t actually remember how we were parented – so it’s a little odd to think we would automatically know how to be a parent to a baby! It takes much more than leaning on how we were raised.
Parenting plans are super helpful. They focus on only a few areas of change, connection with kids, places to grow, and what exactly the outcome can be if everything is implemented. But where can you get them? I provide them during coaching calls. Or you can totally create your own if you prefer a do-it-yourself way of moving forward. You have to know a few things – like parenting styles, options for connection and child development stages.
First, let’s talk about parenting styles. Above, we discussed how without thinking about it, we all have a “default” parenting style which is very similar to how we remember growing up. We mix our dad and mom together and get a “style” that’s our own. Often, it’s one of these styles below or a mix of several.
This was very popular for decades. It taught children to be respectful of the authority figures of parents. In the extreme form, it’s all about children being seen and not heard. They are not able to ask questions and get answers. They are to “do as you’re told”. Authoritative parenting is a power structure of parents on top and children beneath them. The goal of this produces kids who are “respectful”, “obedient” and “good workers” who listen and do what they are told to do for the company they work for. This worked in the Industrial Revolution, but as time passes, there are more difficulties with this style as a choice all by itself. Critical thinking, which is now very important, is just one of many deficiencies this style has. Ultimately, if strictly followed, this style of parenting creates a fear based relationship, and can cause anxiety in children leading up to anxiety disorders in adulthood. The positive side to this style is that parents can find their authority as important in the home, and kids are not to be “equals” or “friends” but free to be children.
This style is where parents allow their kids “permission” to do as they please. In the extreme, this allows children to make up rules and have very few consequences (since there are no rules). If we back off the extreme, this allows children to have preferences, and ideas, allowing time and energy for kids to explore what they love and want and wonder about. The difficulty in this type of parenting is the adult world isn’t always based in what feels good or what we just “want to do”. Also there are always consequences for actions. The great side of this is honoring kids’ exploratory curiosity and giving them time and space to learn the world around them. It’s an interesting option for people who are available at home, so they can supervise kids who are exploring.
Attachment parenting is based in the cultures where women would strap babies to them as they worked in fields, walked for water, cooked, talked with friends, and lived their lives. The babies would stay strapped until they were old enough to walk. Then, mom would continue to be available to them for physical connection – like a hug. Or, also, emotional connection such as talking, listening, laughing, or encouraging, are also readily available. In short, it’s a way for children to have their psychological attachment to parents needs met. This creates a secure adult, not one who is anxious or fearful or rejection, or shame based. The difficulty in this style is that since many women work, they are not as available for this style as previous generations and cultures were. Caregivers can provide this role if they are aware of what it is and what the child needs. However, it is time intensive. Attachments take time and trust. But the result of this style is a confident, secure adult who feels safe, and belongs to a family or community.
Types of Parenting
Above, we talked about some general types of parenting that are options when considering a theory or base to parent from. Here we’ll shift a bit and discuss a few types of parenting you may have heard about in particular cases.
Parenting the strong-willed child.
Originally, the concept of the “strong-willed child” came from Dr. James Dobson who wrote a book called The Strong Willed Child. In it, he defined what this type of child is and how to handle them. Very basically, this was a child who was fearless against authority and didn’t care about consequences – would gladly take anything that happened because their actions were worth it (in their mind). This book was popular in the 1990’s but is often used as a reference book even today, although there are other ways we now understand being “strong willed” and how to channel this instead of come against it with even more force.
Gentle parenting can include any way of being gentle with kids. This can include being mindful, peaceful parenting, conscious parenting or other forms of being aware of a child’s disposition and personality before engaging with consequences and harsh authority
Legally neglectful parenting is endangering the child’s health and wellbeing through not doing things that would protect them. Neglectful parenting includes leaving a baby in a hot car while going into the grocery store. It can include leaving young children at home while mom goes to work. If there is physical abuse happening in the home – including between adults and kids- it’s neglectful to allow kids to stay in that environment. In it’s extreme, it can lead to death and that is punishable by law.
The Parent Child Relationship
The parent-child relationship is a special bond that lasts a lifetime. It is formed based on the interactions of the adult to baby/child/tween/ teen. It is made up of the above parenting styles and often a mix of them! As you can see there is no one “right” way to parent. But, there is good parenting.
Good parenting creates physical and emotional safety. If a child is physically safe, they are free to be brave enough to explore their world without getting hurt or injured. They can find new and exciting things to learn. If they are emotionally safe, they know they will always be welcomed with love and open arm. Their emotions are accepted. They feel they can “be themselves”. This is critical for a growing child. As they mature and get older, the physical boundaries disappear (we no longer need locks on cabinet doors) and they become more self sufficient. Ultimately, they drive a car and navigate the whole world on their own. Why is this important to talk about, even though it’s so obvious? Because the very same skills that a toddler uses to explore their world is what a teen will use to build a life outside of our home.
Good Parenting and Emotional Safety
This happens as we consistently love, listen and respect our kids so they always feel they are valuable to us. Emotional safety means they can tell us anything at any time and we won’t judge, joke them, or criticize or minimize what they’re telling us. This is where most great parents don’t realize they are falling short. It’s much easier to lock down cabinet doors than it is to stay emotionally safe for growing kids. When we take them seriously, invite them to share their expanding worlds and perspectives, and listen, not judge or make fun of them, we create an amazing world of emotional safety that brings connection and trust.
Parenting is one of the most difficult and rewarding seasons of a person’s life. Finding a way to learn parental guidance is critical to the success of parent-child bonding. There are answers and no one has to go it alone. Read additional articles on this blog for further help. Come to coaching for a parenting plan that makes sense to you, and takes into account your own childhood as well as your child’s world. Talk to other parents, and come up with a way to be the amazing parent you know you can be in the world.