Doing Life Together

s child sleepParenting is on John’s mind now that his second child has arrived. John was raised by a father who was harsh and demanding. John often felt as if he could not live up to his father’s expectations. Now a father himself, John is aware that his parenting style is becoming all to similar to his dad’s. He wants to make changes and asks, “What is the best parenting style?

Parenting styles tend to fall in one of four categories: (1) Parents who are authoritarian. These parents have high expectations. Rules are expected to be followed. Authoritarian parents don’t usually give children options and can lack warmth and nurturing. Their approach is, “Do it because I told you so.” (2) Authoritative parents also expect children to follow rules but are much more responsive and democratic in the process. Discipline is supportive rather than punishing. (3) Permissive parents have few demands for the child and rarely discipline. These parents act more like the child’s friend than parent. (4) Uninvolved parents have few demands or involvement. They can also be rejecting or neglecting of a child’s needs.

Researchers have found that parents who are more authoritative in their parenting style have kids with fewer behavior problems, higher academic achievement, and less depression and anxiety. They tend to fare better overall.[i] This means the type A parent’s push for order and getting things done should be balanced with fun, encouragement, and support. The driven type A parent has to be careful to show compassion along the way and understand that success can look different for different kids. The danger with pushing too hard is that children begin to feel they aren’t accepted for who they are and learn to conform to your dreams, not theirs. The best thing is to understand your child’s temperament and help him reach his potential and passion, using a balance of pushing and accepting.


Adapted from We Need to Talk by Linda Mintle (2015, Baker Books)

[i] D. Baumrind, “Child-care Practices Anteceding Three Patterns of Preschool Behavior,” Genetic Psychology Monographs 75 (1967): 43–88.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus