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You are a parent. You want your children to grow up to be happy, successful, and with good values. Despite this, the goal can seem unattainable due to overwhelming circumstances or your partner’s conflicting parenting style. Sometimes you feel like you’re doing the best you can, but there’s still something missing.
In the same way, as a mother of two young children, I often need to think of ways to raise my children well.
My two children are similar in some ways but mostly different, such as their personalities, characters, interests, and abilities.
How do I ensure that they are nurtured the proper way by recognizing their differences? I want them to grow in their unique ways with good character and behavior.
Four parenting styles
In the 1960s, Diana Baumrind discovered that children’s behavior is strongly correlated with parenting and nurturing. In other words, different parenting styles will affect child development and influence academic achievement.
Diana Baumrind identified three parenting styles in her studies, which were then further expanded by Maccoby and Martin (1983) into four.
The FOUR types of parenting styles and the impact of each style are listed below.
Authoritarian parenting (disciplinarian)
“Just do as I say, do not ask so many questions.”
“Because I say so, and I am your mother.”
“Why did you do so poorly in your exam? For this reason, you are grounded!”
Do any of the above statements sound familiar to you? Do they ring true to you? If your answer is yes, then you are an authoritarian parent.
Authoritarian parents believe that their rules are to be followed with no exception. The child must obey strict rules with little to no room to negotiate. There is a high level of parental control.
They have high expectations and use harsh punishment as a form of discipline. They are also less nurturing and aren’t sensitive to their children’s needs.
The authoritarian parenting style may make children unhappy and behave aggressively with poor outcomes.
The authoritative parenting style is thought to be the ideal style. Children tend to be happy and successful when parents choose this style of parenting.
Authoritative parents set high expectations and have rules and boundaries that they expect their children to follow. However, authoritative parents come with clear reasonings and explanations to help their children understand why it’s important to follow and achieve them.
In addition, authoritative parents also believe in giving their children the opportunity to voice their opinions or share their thoughts and feelings. This way, their children will feel validated and appreciated.
Authoritative parents tend to reinforce positive behavior by rewarding and praising their children. In contrast, authoritarian parents (disciplinarians) set rules and boundaries without providing any motivation.
Permissive parenting (indulgent parents)
The permissive parenting style is the total opposite of the authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles. Permissive parents let their children make most decisions, including what to eat, wear, or watch. They set few rules and do not enforce them.
These parents are usually warm and indulgent; however, they seldom or never guide their children. They often give in to their children’s wants and allow them to make their own decisions. There is little parental control.
Permissive parents don’t like saying no to their children for fear of disappointing them.
Children with permissive parents struggle to follow instructions and don’t appreciate authority.
Uninvolved parenting (neglectful parents)
Uninvolved parenting style is when a parent doesn’t pay attention to their children. This style includes being uninterested in what happens at home or school, rarely talking to children, and ignoring their needs.
Neglectful parents don’t care whether their children’s needs are met. They don’t set rules or boundaries. And they don’t seem to care what their children do since they let them do whatever they want.
Some parents may decide to parent this way, but some don’t have time to give any attention to their children due to their work or other personal problems. They are overwhelmed by many other responsibilities that they aren’t interested in parenting.
Beware of personal bias
Everyone has a preferred style of parenting influenced by their upbringing.
We may have been raised with a particular parenting style, and because we come out okay and well, we believe we were raised correctly.
On the other hand, we may also believe that certain parenting styles are wrong due to our bad childhood experiences. Thus, every parent has a different opinion about how to parent.
What happens if my partner and I can’t agree on a single parenting style?
Between my husband and I, we both do adopt different parenting styles. Our upbringing and personalities are different, which results in very different parenting styles.
So how do we learn to work together as a team to parent our children?
Being open about what you feel is a great start to effective parenting. If one is upset about their partner’s way, it’s good to talk it out. Many times, both parents don’t do that. They tend to think, “it’s just the way it is, and there’s no point talking.”
Furthermore, some may feel uncomfortable being open about their feelings. But based on my personal experience, I find that open communication helps because it brings clarity and healing. It helps both parents to understand each other better. As we talk, we begin to understand the reason behind our actions.
From communicating our feelings, we find out our disagreements. Then, we can work on how to come to a compromise.
For instance, one parent believes in punishment, but the other does not. If one of the house rules is broken, what are the consequences?
One parent may need to understand that consequences don’t have to involve harsh punishment to be effective, while the other parent needs to accept that there have to be consequences for bad behavior.
Never disagree in front of the kids
As much as we would like to confront or interfere when we disagree with our partner’s parenting decisions, we should try our very best not to do it in front of our children.
Because then our children will quickly learn where our disagreement lies. They will realize it and use it to their advantage. So, avoid disagreeing in front of them. Save it for later when the children aren’t around to listen.
Of course, this does not apply to situations when the partner is abusive or harms the children.
Forgiving ourselves when things go wrong
I choose to be an authoritative parent to give my children the best possible upbringing. But I admit there were times I became a disciplinarian or an uninvolved parent because of my busy schedule or when I faced some personal challenges that affected my mood. Things happen.
We never choose the kind of problems that come our way. We don’t expect things to turn out bad. Every day, all we hope for is that things go smoothly without any hiccups.
But we don’t live in a perfect world, and we are not perfect. We make mistakes, fail, and fall. I have failed and made mistakes too many times to count. There were days when I reflected upon my decisions and actions, I felt ashamed of myself, and a surge of guilt filled my heart.
All kinds of thoughts fill my mind, such as what if my children turn out to be unloving, what if my children turn out to be aggressive, what if my children do not love me, and so on.
All the what-ifs begin to fill my mind, which doesn’t make me feel better.
So, what do I do when I have made the wrong parenting choice? It could be the words I say or things I do to my children that may have badly affected them. How do I turn back and save the situation?
Frankly, we can’t turn back the time. What is said is said, and what is done is done.
However, the first step we can take is open communication with our children. Explain why we said and acted the way we do and apologize if we have done something inappropriate.
This way, we show our children that we own up to our mistakes and that we as parents make mistakes and fail too. It will also lead them to be open with us and talk about their feelings.
Seeking help from others
Another thing we could do is seek help from someone who has been through parenting. Be open about what you face with that person.
Parenting isn’t an easy job. We cannot do this alone. We need people who can walk this parenting journey with us, listen to us, and pray with us.
Just as the saying goes, “it takes a whole village to raise a child,” I have a few close friends with whom I share my parenting experiences. In return, they share theirs as well.
It does make me feel a little less “alone.” Talking to someone helps to clear my mind. I feel so much better than wallowing in sadness and guilt over my mistakes as a parent.
So, find someone you can talk to comfortably, who will not judge but give advice or lend you a listening ear.
Finding peace by surrendering to God
Finally, the one thing I always do for my children is surrender them to our Father in heaven. No one can look after my children the way God does. I can always rest assured that He has the best plan in store for them.
When things don’t turn out well, I know I can talk to Him like a friend.
On days when I feel overwhelmed by parenting, I run to Him to cry and ask Him for guidance. God will never turn His back on those who seek His comfort and cry out to Him.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 [NLT])
It’s an invitation. Jesus invites you to rest in Him before you even run to Him.
His arms are open and ready to bring you comfort.
No matter what bad parenting decisions you have made, He will accept you just as you are. He loves you. Just like how we parents think the world of our children, He thinks the world of us too and so much more.
The goal of good parenting may seem unattainable, but with God, all things are possible. As a parent, you are not perfect—but are being perfected if you trust God and let Him guide you.