Have you ever noticed as a parent that you find yourself parenting your child the way you were parented? Perhaps your parents also fell into that same pattern because they learned it from THEIR parents. Who knows how many generations ago the habits were first established! If you feel this way, you’re not alone. Inherited parenting styles tend to be the default for many people. It can take a lot of effort to change traditions that have been handed down for several generations, and we all tend to Do what we already Know from experience.
But what if these parenting styles haven’t been working all that well?! What if your family’s parenting tradition is ineffective, or even abusive? Is it possible to break the cycle and try something new, more effective, perhaps even more evidence based? The memes about lackadaisical 80s parents abound on the internet today, but I believe that the funny stories cover a deeper truth. More and more we’re seeing a desire among young parents to do things differently than their parents did and take on a more intentional approach to parenting. Parents are concerned that the attitudes of the generation before them towards parenting are not adequate for the pressures of this century, and the world we now live in.
If you’re interested in a new way to parent and breaking less-than-stellar intergenerational cycles of parenting, consider learning some of the science behind parenting styles so you can respond to your child better and be more present in his/her life. There are multiple types of parenting styles, with even more sub-types, with varying degrees of effectiveness in terms of ensuring a good developmental outcome for your children, and preserving a healthy relationship with your children as they grow.
Not every parenting type cataloged by science is one to emulate but being familiar with the four main types and aware of some of the more prevalent subtypes can be very helpful as you analyze the kind of parenting you received growing up and attempt to develop your own style.
For example, if you were raised by a permissive parent (one of the four main parenting styles) and feel that you want to provide your own children with a more secure and structured environment, it’s helpful to understand the differences between an authoritative style (firm, but caring, with respectful boundaries) and an authoritarian style of parenting (rigid structure, controlling and strict). Or if you grew up with a tiger parent (perfectionistic, punitive, and overbearing subtype) and are determined to take some pressure off your children, you probably want to be able to recognize the signs that you might be slipping into uninvolved parenting (distant, uninterested, and unengaged) – one of the four main types which may be associated with adverse outcomes in cognitive and emotional development.
In case you can’t already tell, this is a topic that I’m passionate about! I’ve even developed a whole course (and holistic guide) on the topic!
I believe that studying all these ins and outs of parenting styles can help you learn to identify your own parenting style tendencies and teach you to recognize some pitfalls you might be prone to. And in the end, I believe that with hard work and preparation, you CAN be a cycle-breaker and learn how to develop new habits which have been shown to improve how your child thinks, feels, and behaves. Your child will then have the skills to meet the (adult) world in a way that is better emotionally managed, having learned that from you! What better reward could you imagine?
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
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