Everyone hopes that they are a good mum or dad, and everything that we want to be to our children – whether that is a carer, a role model, a friend or a mentor. But even supermums and dads find it difficult to hit the nail on the head every time! And often, we’re our own hardest critics.
Did you know that psychologists have identified four main parenting styles? These styles identify the ways mums and dads interact and treat their children, and it’s interesting to compare the four and see which style most clearly matches our own.
Authoritarian – If you’re an authoritarian parent, you hold all the power. The key to your parenting style is control – you make all the decisions for your child, and like structure and conformity. There is little warmth in the relationship with your child.
Authoritative – Authoritative parents strike a balance between being both responsive and demanding. They set clear boundaries for their children, but allow space within those boundaries for their children to make their own decisions. Authoritative parents are generally warm but firm.
Indulgent – Indulgent parents set no clear boundaries for their children, and the children usually hold more power than the parents themselves. Indulgent parents often want their children to find their own way, and make their own decisions. Their parenting style is warm and soft.
Indifferent – Indifferent parents generally show little interest in providing care for their children. They demand little from them, but also do not give much back. While they provide the bare essentials, often children do not know what to expect, and there is no consistency to their parenting. Often indifferent parents are despondent.
According to psychologists, authoritative parents have the most success in boosting a young person’s self esteem, helping them develop resilience, helping them to look after themselves and putting them in good stead to have healthy relationships. I’d like to think I’m authoritative parent but it is very likely that I swing towards Indulgent.
It’s quite common that you might have a different parenting style to your partner. If this is the case, it’s important that you and your partner can support each other in decisions and put up a united front. Luckily Mr Monkey and I have very similar parenting styles (although he can be a little more strict than I) but negotiating different parenting styles can also be particularly difficult for couples who have separated. Talking about and being accommodating of your former partner’s parenting style and vice versa can help make the process easier when parenting arrangements are decided (with or without the help of a family lawyer).
Everyone must carve out and nurture their own parenting style, but it’s good to understand what yours is and how it is moulding your child. Remember, children are products of their parents, so the way you behave and act towards them has a significant impact on their development and character. Of course, we’re always going to have our bad days and lose our temper, but thinking about what parenting style we want to adopt can help us stay on track.
What parenting style do you have?
This post was written in collaboration with Watts McCray Family Lawyers