Finding the Right Parenting Style

A parenting style is an emotional construct, or shared mental models used by parents to educate their children about appropriate behavior. In a healthy family, the style of parenting used by each member can contribute significantly to the achievement and well-being of the children. However, the quality of parenting alone can sometimes be more important than the amount of time spent interacting with the kids. The parenting style that a parent uses can actually influence how the child learns about and experiences the world around them.

There are several types of parenting styles, which have varying strengths and weaknesses. Parenting styles that are most often employed in most families are sociable, permissive, and authoritarian. Each of these styles can be effective and may even produce excellent results. When parents choose a particular parenting style, however, it can have a profound effect on their children.

Sociational parenting is the style in which parents actively encourage social interaction and discourage independence and passive compliance. This parenting style can take many forms, but the core principle is the parents need to set limits and help their children achieve self-control. Children become more self-reliant when they see the parental authority figure as responsive to their needs and desires. When parents do not practice this style of parenting, children often lack self-discipline and self-awareness and may lack the social skills needed to manage their environments.

A permissive parenting style allows parents to set limits and allow children to act according to their behavioral impulses. Children who are nurtured and allowed to self-manage their environments are far better adjusted than children who are constantly ordered to behave according to social rules. Children who are constantly exposed to this “bad boy” or “bad girl” behavior model tend to act out because they feel that their parents are being controlling and manipulative. Children who are exposed to nurturing parents, however, tend to develop a sense of fairness and social skills due to their parents’ encouragement and support. Children who are exposed to a nurturing parenting style also tend to have higher self-esteem and greater self-confidence.

There are other styles of parenting, and each one has some characteristics that are beneficial and others that are detrimental. However, these two parenting styles are the most common. Parenting styles that encourage independent activity and a strong sense of responsibility are very helpful to all families. Allowing children to be self-sufficient is essential for healthy child development and these are the types of parents who encourage independent play and intellectual growth.

In your search for the best parenting style, try to find the style that fits your family. Research each potential style to determine which characteristics are important to you and your family. Talk with friends and peers who also have children of the same age and gender to gain perspective on the best styles for your family. Remember, however, that these parenting styles are merely a framework – it is up to you and your spouse or partner to decide what works best for you and your family.