Ground-Truthing:  Parenting Styles Thought Experiment  3.2.1

These are widely used characteristics of parenting styles and the results of those styles in children.  As you consider them, examine why each specific set of parental attitudes and behaviors might lead to those specific consequences in the child’s attitudes and behaviors.  What real-world examples have you seen where these descriptions are true or false? 

Authoritative Parenting:  The parent is affectionate and engaged; sets limits and enforces consequences; uses reason, logic, and appropriate negotiation; and empowers the child’s decision-making – so the child is more likely to be happy, responsible, and kind; good at problem-solving; self-motivated and confident; cooperative; an excellent student; a leader.

Authoritarian Parenting:  The parent is emotionally aloof; bossy and likely to say, “because I said so”; uses physical punishment or verbal insults, including psychological and emotional punishments; dismisses the child’s feelings – so the child is more likely to be moody and anxious; well-behaved; an average to good student; a follower.

Permissive Parenting:  The parent is affectionate; anxious to please and ends many sentences by asking, “Okay?”; indulgent; unable to say no and stick to it; easily manipulated – so the child is more likely to be demanding and whiny; easily frustrated; lacking kindness and empathy; a poor to average student; a follower.

Passive Parenting:  The parent is emotionally removed or indifferent; uninvolved; unwilling to discipline; inconsistent and unpredictable –  so the child is more likely to be clingy and needy; inappropriate and rude; likely to get into trouble; a poor student; a follower.

Many of these descriptions are “loaded” words – what do they mean?  What is an “excellent,” “good,” “average,” or “poor” student in this context?  What other circumstances might affect these results?  What do “problem-solving,” “well-behaved,” “whiny,” or “inappropriate” mean, for example?  Certainly, no one is entirely consistent.  What kind of mixing of styles have you seen?  Have you seen any parent or child consciously change their style or behavior?

Phyllis Ballata

Without Words We Cannot Think

“You don’t choose your family.  They are God’s gift to you as you are to them.”  Archbishop Desmond Tutu (b. 1931), South Africa


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