There's no one perfect parenting style, though we're betting that readers of Parent USA City are not "cold potatoes"! Check this article to learn more about the different parenting styles and take our poll below.
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by Susan Manning, founder of Parent USA City
What kind of parent are you? Have you checked out some the books on parenting styles and child rearing? Have you Googled parenting styles, child rearing styles, or articles on parenting? Are you permissive? Authoritative? Authoritarian? Here's a short essay about my personal parenting style.
Oftentimes I feel like a permissive parent, bowing to what feels like the demands (really needs!) of one of my kids. I know, though, that I really am not a permissive parent. My parenting style has definitely morphed over the years but I can easily classify my own style among the several different parenting styles. I definitely am an authoritative parent—I strive to provide rules and guidance without being overbearing.
I can thank my dad for teaching me this approach to child rearing. I remember when Dad would come home from work, and I would make a beeline to the kitchen where he would be hugging Mom as she prepared dinner. He would look at me with a kind of pride and ask me how my day had been. When I was really little this would be my cue to climb up on his lap to watch Mom serve the meal.
I remember saying to a friend that Dad viewed us as small adults. She gasped thinking that I meant Dad held the view of Rousseau, that children were a smaller version of adults but possessed the same mental and emotional capacity and should be treated that way. I think my friend may have envisioned the work of Pieter Bruegel who depicted children as a shrinky dinks version of adults. That is not what I meant! I meant to convey that Dad treated us with respect and challenged our minds by posing questions about a political issue or social norm.
Dad was an authoritative parent before child rearing styles had been studied and defined. His parenting style was kind, respectful, and democratic. I was understood when I went through all the crazy phases of childhood. I wasn’t considered a pain when I questioned “why?” In fact, one time I felt that Dad didn’t give me a thorough answer. He said, “You just don’t throw up in the sink” and didn’t explain. Well, of course I felt compelled to get the answer myself, and did so when the opportunity arose (!).
Dad understood that we were going to go through all kinds of phases that would pretty much continue until we reached college. He knew that every few years something would change. We would probably be 18 years old before we could sit across a dining room table and discuss the virtue of something civilized like a particular cheese, or even a good steak. I was fortunate that both of my parents remembered all their childhood stunts and how their parents still adored them.
So, I was lucky that I was understood by my parents while I went through all the crazy phases of childhood. This is probably why I would say that I became an authoritative parent. And, I think that it has been exciting growing kids! Also, I have always wanted my kids to be happy and secure, no matter what the definition of my child rearing style was. Even when they mess up I make myself pull back, regain a cool attitude, and forgive them.
Like any other parent I do maintain expectations of them. I give them standards. These include everything from manners to schoolwork. However, if I am short on knowledge in any area I find the answer, just like I want my kids to do.
I haven’t learned of a quota for hugging or a smooch on the cheek. Is there one?
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Susan Manning is the founder of Parent USA City and a mother of two. Previously, she founded and published St. Louis Parent Magazine in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1985 through 2007.
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