Is there a ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ Style of Parenting?

By Jennifer Axley

The way you raise your child can have a big bearing on their future happiness and success, with many studies finding that an authoritarian parenting style (one that makes strong demands on children but isn’t responsive to their needs) can be particularly damaging. In addition to the authoritarian way of parenting, there are three other commonly cited parenting styles: the authoritative (demanding yet responsive), permissive (undemanding and responsive) and neglectful (undemanding and non-responsive) styles. In one study on teens by Kordi and Baharudin, it was found that in terms of academic achievement, good results were strongly linked to authoritative (but not authoritarian or permissive) styles. Grades are just one thing, of course; social interaction and general happiness are equally, if not more important when it comes to the happiness of our children.

 

A Surefire Way to Get it Wrong

Scientists generally agree that authoritarian parenting styles can increase the likelihood of anxiety and depression in a child. On the other hand, kindness and warmth can ease kids’ distress and help improve their mental health. One study published in the journal Frontiers found that even in very traumatised children (in this case, owing to war), children who received a blend of maternal authoritativeness and warmth were protected against the mental effects of war. Another study published in Preventive Medicine found that children of authoritarian and negligent parents had a 44% and 26% increased likelihood of obesity. The researchers postulated that children of authoritarian parents in particular can find it hard to self-regulate their caloric intake. Because parents are excessively controlling, kids no longer know how to eat when they are hungry and stop when they feel satiated.

 

Seeing Things in the Same Light as Your Teen

A study published by scientists at the University of California-Riverside found that when teens viewed their parent’s parenting style more harshly than the parents themselves did, they had higher levels of aggression. The study also pointed out one interesting fact: sometimes, teens perceive their parents to be more lenient than parents feel they are. It is clear that there is a discrepancy in both points of view, pointing out the need for communication and understanding. When choosing how to parent your child, communication simply cannot be left out. While setting limits and rules and encouraging your teen to aim for goals is acceptable, it is also important to make it very clear to your teen that their feelings and thoughts are valued and taken into account.

 

Parenting Styles are Affected by Economic Factors

The style you choose when parenting children and teens may seem individual, but it is actually influenced by economic factors. A study by L Berger found that socioeconomic conditions influence how much control parents take over their kids’ choices. The greater economic inequality is, the more parents tend to shift to an intense parenting style, demanding academic success from their kids and trying to stop them from partaking in risky behaviours.

 

While every parent must decide the ethos they are most comfortable with, science has more than proven that authoritarian parenting can ‘break’ a child or teen. It is important to balance expectations with warmth, especially if kids are already going through a hard time.

 


Author bio: Jennifer left her corporate finance job to pursue her true passions of writing and being a good mother. She now works from home, teaching her kids and offering her knowledge to readers on a range of topics.

 

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