What’s the best way to parent children? My husband’s parents were very strict and controlling of him as a child. Their motto was “Children should be seen and not heard.” I grew up in a very loving home where my parents gave me everything I wanted and basically let me do whatever I wanted. They considered me their best friend. We know our parents made some mistakes in parenting but we also see the good things they did, too. How can we parent in a way that keeps the good parts and does away with the bad?
Confused in John’s Creek
First, a little history:
In the 1970’s, Diana Baumrind, clinical and developmental psychologist, coined four parenting styles; Authoritarian, Permissive, Uninvolved, and Authoritative. These styles are categorized based on four parenting dimensions; control, demand, communication, and nurturance.
These four styles are still used today in order to describe parenting styles. From your letter, I would describe your husband’s parents as Authoritarian parents. These parents are highly involved, have very high expectations, are controlling, and show little warmth and kindness.
And based on your description of your parents, I would say they were Permissive or Indulgent parents. These parents are highly involved, have very low expectations, have little control over their children’s behavior and decisions, and are very warm and kind.
As you may have noticed, you both received positive and negative aspects of parenting. And, you both were parented from opposite ends of the parenting spectrum.
The style of parenting that, based on research, produces the best outcomes for children is Authoritative parenting. These parents are highly involved, have high demands, allow their children to make decisions & learn from their mistakes, and are very warm & kind. Children who are parented in this style are not likely to engage in early sexual behavior and illegal drug use but are likely to experience happiness in their endeavors as well as perform their best in school and other activities.
I suggest you sit down with your husband to discuss and write down the best parts of your parents’ parenting. These are the things your parents did for you that were effective and you want to emulate. Also, note the behaviors of your parents that you want to avoid because they were ineffective. Once you get it all written down, you have created your very own parenting style.
Then, think about your family and what you want your family to achieve. That will be your Family Mission. Finally, focus your attention to the kind of woman you want your daughter to be when she is 30. That is your Vision.
The process may take a week or so but the time and attention will be well worth it. You will have created a Parenting Plan that you both agree upon. You will, of course, stray from time to time. That’s okay. No one is the perfect parent. But having a plan will keep you focused and in alignment with each other. And that’s the greatest way to parent of all.
Good luck and let me know how it goes!
Susan Eppley, ECE, LPC
Leadership Parenting Coach, Parent & Child Educator