The Impact of Parenting Styles
Having spent years studying parenting and resiliency, research shows that children raised by Democratic parents have higher self-esteem, do better in school, relate better to their peers in large part because they had greater self-confidence and self control. On the other hand, families with Authoritarian or Permissive parenting tend to have children who do less well in school, have lower self-efficacy, less self-control, and lower self-esteem, placing these children more at risk when dealing with life's adversities.
So what about the woman and young girl who wanted ice cream even though she didn't eat her lunch? What lessons might she have learned during this encounter? Instead of learning self-control, patience, and the important lesson that there are consequences to our actions, she may have learned that she can get whatever she wants by being aggressive. She's also learned that her mother will not enforce rules of what is appropriate behavior, even though a six-year old isn't able to always make such a decision. Imagine the impact of this when she's with her friends or as she enters the teenage years or beyond.
Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, in part because the demands of parenting change as our children grow. What may have worked with toddlers is not necessarily the best way to approach it when our children are growing, becoming more independent. As the research shows a parenting style which balances parents' expectations and guidance while allowing the child to have more input can be the best for helping our children grow into successful, resilient adults. And isn't that what parenting is all about?
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Baumrind, D. (1996). The discipline controversy revisited. Family Relations, 45 (4).
Hickman, G.P., Bartholomae, S. & McKenry, P.C. (2000) Influence of parenting styles on the adjustment and academic achievement of traditional college freshman. Journal of College Student Development, 41, 41 - 52.