We’ve all had one. Chances are we will be one.
That’s it. Parents.
Parenting is a rather controversial issue across the globe as there is no one, right way to do it. Every child is different, as well as every parent. Despite the radical difference in parenting methods, we all have one goal: have our children grow up to be better than we are.
Parenting: The Impossible Task
Maybe you are already a parent, or maybe you’re expecting your first, or maybe having kids is a far off dream. Regardless, the idea of raising a child is stressful and overwhelming. It’s so easy to think that if you don’t do it right, your kid will be permanently screwed up. On the flip side, you may have a rude awakening because you thought you knew exactly what you’d do in every parenting scenario, until the little one showed up.
Over the generations we have seen a multitude of different parenting styles that have even influenced history. The upcoming generation will see so many flaws in how their parents raised them, and will swear to do things differently. Then their upcoming generation will do the same. As such, parenting itself is a vicious cycle that is constantly evolving.
Ultimately, it is most important to ensure your parenting style is supporting healthy growth and development for your child. You do have a lot of influence and control on how your child lives, how they grow to view themselves, and even their physical health.
The Four Most Common Parenting Styles
While no parent completely fits in any of these four categories, there are certain characteristics that are prominent in the different parenting styles. Each of these preferred methods also has a serious impact on your children as they grow.
- The Authoritarian Parent believes kids should be seen and not heard, the parent is always right, rules are set by the parent and should be unquestionably obeyed, and disobedience comes with a harsh punishment rather than discipline. You’ll regularly hear this parent’s response as simply “because I said so,” rather than a discussion to help their child understand. A child’s emotional state is rarely acknowledged, and even more rarely taken into any serious account. Children who grow up in this environment tend to be very good in the military or at following the rules in general; they aren’t much for trouble makers. But they also can be at higher risk for self-esteem issues with a tendency to also be aggressive towards others.
- The Permissive Parent usually sets a lot of rules, but rarely enforces them. These parents don’t tend to be super involved with their kids’ lives outside of their own relationship; they believe that you’ll learn best from your own experiences. Rather than keeping the role of a parent, or a guardian, a permissive parent will want to be more of a friend to their child. Due to lack of structure and leadership, children from these households tend to have the hardest time academically, have a hard time recognizing or respecting authority, and have the highest obesity rate.
- The Passive Parent is just that: passive. They’ll rarely engage with their children on a personal level, spend minimal time with them, and have little to no household rules. Often once these children reach a certain age, parents won’t even know where their child is or who they are with. This kind of parenting, though neglectful, is not always intentional, however. With the American divorce rate at an all-time high of 48%, many parents operate as the single provider for their household so are distracted by work, paying bills, or are overwhelmed by other issues. Unfortunately, these children tend to have the worst grades, have the most teenage behavioral problems, and are at highest risk for depression and suicide.
- The Authoritative Parent has by far psychologists’ and family counselors’ most preferred parenting style. These parents put a lot of effort into a healthy relationship with their child. They absolutely want to have fun and be involved in their child’s life, but also establish a firm boundary of authority. These parents take care to explain the reasons behind the rules, as well as the reasons for any punishment – taking time to eliminate behavioral problems before they even begin. Children raised in these environments tend to be the best at decision making, evaluating safety risks on their own and are most likely to be comfortable expressing their opinions responsibly.
The Day to Day: Just Getting Through
Being a parent, regardless of your parenting style, is never easy. Each day faces you with new struggles, new questions, and new issues to work through with your child. It is so easy to get wrapped up in their needs and forget our own. I’ve heard far too many of my clients tell me how they simply feel like they’re going to collapse at the end of the day from exhaustion – mental, emotional, and physical.
The days certainly can be long, but the years are short with your children. Here are some tips to help you through the long days:
- Take at least 30 minutes for yourself. Whether that is simply taking a long shower or bath, doing your makeup, or maybe going on a walk by yourself, taking dedicated time to recharge your own batteries is essential.
- Regularly engage with your spouse or partner. While weekly date nights might not be possible for some, showing your children that they aren’t the center of your universe will help build healthy boundaries. It also will help you and your partner keep the chemistry alive if you have regular, uninterrupted time together.
- When possible, include your children in your activities. It may be a daunting task at first, but make what seems like a monotonous task (like making dinner or even cleaning up the house) a family activity. Involving your children in chores or cooking will help them grow to be responsible and able to care for themselves as adults.
- Remember that you don’t have to be Superman/Woman every day. There are days when the laundry will pile up and the front garden hasn’t been weeded. Still take the time to make slime with your toddler. Engaging with your children, even on days they’re making you want to pull your hair out, will reinforce the bond between you.
It is an undeniable change that happens to you when you become a parent. Your priorities shift, your world turns upside down, and you even have to give up some dreams in order to take care of your little (or not so little) one. Despite the challenges, the long days, and even the heartache that comes with parenting, it will remain the most rewarding thing that you ever do.