Parenting is one of the most difficult “jobs” in the world. It comes with many ups and downs, many frustrations, but also many rewards. Everyone has their own theories on the best way to parent. There is some truth to the idea that you should trust your instincts – that all children are different, and your job is to do the best you can and, above all else, try to keep your child safe and cared for.
But that is not to say that there isn’t some evidence about the effects of different parenting styles, and the outcomes people hope to see for their kids. It’s important to remember that biology and experiences play a role, but as a parent, it helps to know what children benefit from the most and how they can decide what approaches to take as they raise their babies.
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Everyone Parents Differently – That’s Okay
People parent in different ways that are influenced by a variety of factors such as:
- How they were raised.
- What they believe a good parent is.
- How their personality matches their child’s needs, and more.
These influences mean that the instinctual way that many parents raise their children isn’t necessarily something that can (or should) be changed. It’s difficult enough to change who you are. It is even more difficult when the outcome isn’t always clear.
Children raised in completely different environments can grow up very similarly, and vice versa, and developmental psychologists have long had difficulty to determine exactly how and why some children become who they become.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some links.
Parenting style appears to play at least some role in increasing the likelihood a child develops in a certain way. Examples include:
- Authoritarian Parenting Style – Parents set the rules. Children follow them, or they are punished. Children do not get a say in these rules nor do the rules have to have a specific reason. Parents are the boss. Children do what they’re told. Children of this style of parenting are more obedient and hard working but may struggle emotionally.
- Authoritative Parenting – Authoritative still has a lot of rules set by the parents, but the child is allowed to ask questions, and the parents may be more likely to forgive the child for mistakes. Parents are also more supportive, encouraging their child to listen and do what’s best rather than force them. This is the style best supported by psychologists, as children tend to be happier, yet still successful and focused.
- Permissive Parenting – Permissive parents let their children “run the show.” They tend to believe that children should be children and not confined by rules, while they pay the role of friend over authority. Though these children often feel cared for, they tend to be less happy and may not do as well in school and work.
Of these different parenting styles, “Authoritative Parenting” has been seen as the one with the best outcome. Children of authoritative parents do tend to be happier without sacrificing their ability to perform well in school and work. While there are many cultural, personality, and lifestyle situations that need to be taken into consideration, authoritative parenting is the approach that appears to be the best if you’re hoping to improve your child’s long term outcomes.