How to Choose a Parenting Style

Three Methods:Looking to Your CommunityUsing One of the Main Parenting StylesMaking a Choice with Your Co-Parent

Parenting is a difficult job with no clear instructions for doing it “right.” Children’s personalities and abilities vary and change over time, as does the research on what works best. Parenting is usually a cultural and personal choice, so there are infinite parenting styles to choose from, and many things to consider as you make your decision. Whether you get advice from the people around you or follow the academic research, you will have to decide what is going to work best for you, your family, your child, and the society in which you live.

Method 1
Looking to Your Community

  1. 1
    Think about what kind of person you want to your child to be. Parents play a large role in shaping their children. You are not the only one who has a say in their personality, but you’ll be your child’s first teacher, protector, and friend. Think about what you need to do to mold your child into a person you (and your child) can be proud of.
  2. 2
    Ask your parents what they did with you. One way to choose a style is to refer back to what your parents did. For some people, thinking back to their own parenting is heart-warming, while for others it may cause trauma. Either way, most parents end up continuing the parenting cycle in some form, so take care in analyzing your family history. Consider asking your own parents about the techniques they used with you. Decide if you want to pass those experiences on to your own child.[1]
  3. 3
    Talk to other parents. If you have a child or are expecting, chances are you already know a few people who have children of their own. Ask them about the strategies they use with their children.
    • Touch on key topics. Parenting is a large subject. You may want to come prepared with questions about specific topics like how to discipline, how much free time to allow, and how to split parenting responsibilities.

Method 2
Using One of the Main Parenting Styles

  1. 1
    Weigh the pros and cons of the four styles. Although there are many ways to be a parent, psychologists often refer to four main parenting styles. The styles are authoritarian, permissive, authoritative, and uninvolved. Although all parenting styles have their pros and cons at a given time, most research suggests that children who grow up with authoritative styles tend to be more socially adjusted and do well in school. In general, children whose parents hold high expectations (authoritarian and authoritative) tend to be more successful than children whose parents have few expectations (permissive and uninvolved).[2]
    • The authoritarian style of parenting involves strict rules and high behavioral expectations of children. Parents who use this style of parenting do not explain their rules to their children, but they expect them to follow the rules without question. Children are taught to always respect authorities.[3]
    • Permissive parenting requires few demands from children. The parents have few rules or expectations. If the children do something wrong, the permissive parent may not punish them. This type of parent is nurturing and affectionate and allows children to express themselves freely. Permissive parents are accepting of emotional outbursts, sometimes resulting in poor behavior.[4]
    • The authoritative style of parenting falls somewhere between authoritarian and permissive. Parents set high expectations, but also explain the logic behind the rules they have set. This form of parenting focuses on the needs of the child and the parent. Authoritative parents expect their children to act their age, to control their emotions, and to learn independence. Children in authoritative homes are nurtured by affectionate parents who allow them enough freedom to explore life.[5]
    • The uninvolved parent demands little from his or her children and only provides what is required for basic care. Uninvolved parenting is a hands-off style that does not involve discipline, affection, or redirection of any behavior. The children's emotional needs are largely ignored. As a result, children tend to have behavioral issues and tend to be unhappy.[6]Compared to the other styles, children of uninvolved parents tend to be the least competent.[7]
  2. 2
    Decide which style works best for you and your child. Evaluate the parenting styles and decide which one fits best. Remember to think about the many adult figures your child will interact with as they grow up.
    • Consider your child's other parent. You may or may not be parenting on your own. If there are other adults involved, think about what style they are using. For example, If your child’s grandmother is very permissive, you might feel the need to balance that with a stricter, authoritative approach. Alternatively, you could talk to her about making a compromise between your two styles.
    • Think about the culture you are part of. Parenting varies across cultures. For example, your child may grow up in a culture of authoritarian adults. This may or may not be good for your child’s needs. Think about whether you want to balance this with a more democratic approach.
  3. 3
    Make a plan to stick to your chosen style. Once you’ve made a choice to parent in a certain way, make every effort to stick to it. Parenting is challenging and practices, especially disciplining practices, can go out the window when things get tough. Find a way to stick to the style you’ve chosen.
    • Don’t worry if you have to make changes. Children change, so parenting must change too. Be open to adapting your style for the various situations that come up.[8] You may not want to swing from one end to another and confuse your child, but being a bit more strict or lenient on some occasions may be appropriate.

Method 3
Making a Choice with Your Co-Parent

  1. 1
    Review the main parenting styles with others involved in raising the child. You don’t have to decide on a parenting style on your own. If you are raising children with other adults, talk to them about what they believe is best for the child. You may refer to the parenting styles, or come up with a hybrid style of your own.
  2. 2
    Divide parental responsibilities. In any household there is a lot of work to be done. With two parents, it is important that there is open communication about whose job it is to meet the various needs of your child. You'll have to agree on a clear division of labor for things to run smoothly. Who will take care of bath time? Who will cook dinner? These are good questions to work through before the stresses of being parents pile up.[9]
  3. 3
    Make a parenting plan. Come up with a set of practices that you will use to ensure that you see the desired outcome for you and your child. Have a conversation with the parents involved and create a clear guide for how you will handle parenting issues.
    • Talk about discipline and praise. Figure out when and how you will praise, discipline, and spend time with your child.
    • Talk about parenting duties. Decide how you will divide child care, finances, and household chores with your spouse or co-parent.
  4. 4
    Check in to see if you are being effective. Check in with your fellow parent (or parents) to see how things are going. Think back to what you wanted for your child when you first put together a parenting plan. Compare your child’s reality with your original expectations. If things are not going as planned, consider adjusting your strategies or changing your parenting style.[10]
    • Ask key questions to see if things are going well. Is your child doing well in school? Are they making good choices? Do they have significant friendships? Are they happy?

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Categories: Creating Life Balance