Friday, February 13, 2009

Parenting Styles

This post is not meant to be critical of any of the parenting styles (as I see myself using bits of all of them), rather to just organize my thoughts about what I've been reading. My thoughts on the parent I would like to be.
So lately I have been thinking a lot about parenting styles. Not the typical attachment parenting vs. mainstream or traditional parenting, but the disciplinary styles. When you research parenting styles in discipline, you usually find 3 types. For examples, read this or this. Most information says that not one way is right, but that usually the most balanced approach is best.

Maybe it's just me, but I can't imagine anyone wanting to be the permissive parent, and most probably don't want to be the extreme authoritarian parent either. I think most parents want to be in the middle, with the democratic-authoritative style. We want to set rules so our children have an idea how to live (ie. We don't hit people). We want to give our children some freedom to learn from their own mistakes. We want to set boundaries and guidelines, and be consistent with them.

It's all about balance.

What scares me about the authoritarian style, is that the kids often have low self-esteem and often don't have the ability to say "no" because they haven't learnt to make choices for themselves. And as I read here, they often fall into peer pressure because they're used to people telling them what to do or because they want to rebel from their parents.

And it's easy to assume a permissive parent would never spank their child. I think parent's that spank can still be permissive parents. For example, a parent that ignores their child's negative behavior 90% of the time, and then blows up the other 10% and gives a spanking, is still permissive. That parent doesn't provide boundaries 90% of the time and then blows up and spanks their child for 10% of the time. It's the lack of consistency.

And like most of the research says, parents aren't just "authoritarian" or "permissive" or "democratic". Most parents are mostly one but a little of the other two. And I think most parents want to be democratic. I also think that parents either parent the way their parents did, or the exact opposite.

I know for myself, I am a bit of all 3. My goal is to use the democratic style. It will take lots of practice and hard work but it's my goal. I need to work on the consistency. I've made lots of mistakes already, and will make many more in the future, but I hope that I will see progress in this journey of parenting.

I want Stinx to have rules and boundaries so he knows what is OK and what's not, but I also want him to be able to make some choices and learn from his mistakes. I want him to be able to say "No" when someone tries to mistreat him. I want him to be respectful but I also want him to be able to think for himself.
And what I've also been thinking about is how people mix people's parenting choices, with discipline styles. For example, some people might assume that a "mainstream" parent would use the authoritarian discipline style. Or vice verse, and I think this misconception happens a lot more - an attachment parent is a permissive parent. When really, if you really think about it, any parent uses any of those styles. Many mainstream parents are permissive parents, and even an attachment parent could be a mild authoritarian parent. And both mainstream and attachment parents use the democratic style. Because choices, like whether to crib sleep or co-sleep, breastfeed or bottle feed, wear your baby or push a stroller, have NOTHING to do with a parent's discipline style. Seriously, unrelated!

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