Like communication styles, parenting styles are influenced by most of the same factors. Our experiences greatly impact and shape how we respond to challenges, changes, and life-long experiences like parenting. If you take a few moments to stop and think about how your parenting your child and how your parents raised, you- it is likely you may find some similarities and some differences.
There is not perfect parenting style, and in many cases some caregivers find that they fall between a combination of these approaches. There are two very important components that define parenting styles:
- Methods of Discipline
- Degree of Nurturing
Take some time to reflect on these points:
- Which parenting style best represents that of those who raised you?
- What was the balance like between discipline and nurture when you were a child?
- Which parenting style do you most align with now?
- If you have a partner or spouse, do you share or differ in your parenting styles?
- What influences your parenting style?
Knowing and increasing awareness around your parenting style can help begin the process of creating balance. Parenting style consists of the many way’s parents interact with their children. This includes values, beliefs, rituals, and traditions, and culture within a family unit, or parent-child dynamic. Allowing a child to call their parents by their first name, eating together as a family, giving allowance for doing chores, and other day-to-day activities may vary between parenting styles. Parenting styles likely do not harm a child. However, there may be some ways that a chosen style is not the most effective approach for teaching and interacting with children.
Sometimes people will ask if an approach to parenting is truly a parenting style, a form of discipline intended to teach the child or correct inappropriate behavior, or child abuse. These can be complex instances and it is not always easy to know when we don’t have all the facts.
Here are some key reminders:
- Culture plays a significant role in parenting style. Culture is not limited too ethnic or racial background. It includes gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age, religion, education/occupation, and geographic location. Learning about a family’s cultural background can go a long way in understanding parenting styles and discipline practices. However, culture cannot justify abuse and parents must adapt their parenting practices to what is acceptable in the dominant culture around them.
- Discipline does not need to be physical. There are many ways to teach children without running the risk of hurting a child. Using time-outs, the removal of privileges, and ending play time are teaching moments to promote better behavior. Discipline approaches and practices must be age appropriate and safe for children.
- Every parent needs a break. It may be best for parents to take a time-out and cool down before disciplining a child. It is better to be a first responder, rather than a nuclear reactor! Remember, responding to situations helps model emotional regulation and problem solving for children. Reacting in anger and emotion models impulsivity. Providing discipline in a calm, clear way helps children to understand there is good reasoning behind the punishment and the parent’s judgment.