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What kind of parent am I? Is this a question you have asked yourself, other than in a moment of horror, after you have made a regrettable decision or error? We all like to think of ourselves as “good” parents and, of course, feel like a “bad” parent from time to time.

Instead of thinking of yourself in such extreme terms, let’s examine something called “parenting styles”.  Depending on which expert you are reading, there are either 3 or 4 styles of parenting.  I will use what seems to be agreed upon in psychology today.  The four styles described are: Authoritarian, Permissive, Uninvolved, and Authoritative. I am going to describe each briefly:

  • Authoritarian parenting is characterized by high demands and low responsiveness. Children are expected to follow the rules as laid down by the parent(s) and there is little or no positive feedback or nurturing. Any feedback is usually of a negative sort and mistakes on the part of the children are normally met with punishment, sometimes rather harsh punishment.
  • Permissive  parenting, is characterized by low demands and high responsiveness.  These parents tend to be very loving, yet provide few guidelines or rules, and may seem more like a friend than a parental figure.
  • Uninvolved parenting is characterized by a lack of responsiveness to the child’s needs.  There are few to no demands on their children and these parents are often indifferent, dismissive or even completely neglectful.
  • Authoritative parenting is characterized by high demands but also high responsiveness to the needs of their children.  These parents encourage their children to be independent in their thinking and decision making but do put limits (rules and guidelines) on their actions.

I would like to add another style introduced to me by my grown son.  It is referred to as Peaceful Parenting.  This style of parent uses intentional, gently ways to guide their children using empathetic and cooperative solutions and avoids trying to control behavior with punishment.

Intentional may be the key word there. In other words deliberate, calculated, conscious, intended, planned, meant, studied, knowing, willful, purposeful, purposive, done on purpose, premeditated, preplanned, preconceived. How many of us live our lives this way, let alone parent? Our parenting style may be in the same style we were parented or as a reaction against the way we were parented.

There is never a better time than today to reflect on and evaluate what and how we are doing.  Maybe you have already figured this out. If so, good for you! It would be great to hear your story. If not there is a test you can take online to see “what style of parent you are”.  Then you can take it from there.  Do you need some input, education, training? Use your support system, seek guidance, enroll in a class, do some reading. You may also want to think about what type of parenting style your partner,  or the other parent(s),  and your care giver(s) use, and consider how that affects your parenting and your child (ren).

A link for one of the online tests is: psychology today.tests.psychtests.com

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