We all want our children to grow up well – to become intelligent, responsible, good human beings. We want them to succeed in life. But the way we go about it, can be very different. Research has shown that there are generally four different styles of parenting. Psychology names them – Authoritative, Permissive, Neglectful and Authoritarian. I once attended a seminar where I heard it given different names and those word pictures stayed with me.
1. Policeman Parent (Authoritative)
These parents are very demanding and extremely strict. Life is full of rules without any explanations (You do it because I said so. I’m the parent, you’re the child.) The atmosphere at home is charged with explosions of anger and fear. Corporal punishment (whacking with the belt, slapping across the face, etc.) is used a lot to get the child to comply. The child is rarely praised or shown physical affection like hugging, for fear of spoiling the child. Generally this parent makes most of the decisions for the child without consulting the child or taking his or her feelings into consideration (eg. To a 4 yr old: You will wear this dress. 10 yr old: You will not talk to that child; 15 yr old: You will go to that college; 18 yr old: You will become an engineer; 25 yr old: You will marry so and so person.)
Children of these parents tend to be very fearful and shy and may exhibit poor social skills. They have a low self esteem and believe that they have to earn love – if they do what somebody wants, they will be loved. Thus they become people pleasers. Although they are generally very compliant and obedient, they live double lives (behaving in a certain way in front of the person, and a completely different way behind their back). Because decisions have been made for them all their lives, they find it very difficult to make decisions and choose wisely when a set of options is presented before them.
2. Lollipop Parent (Permissive)
This is a very indulgent style of parenting. They give into whatever the child wants or demands. As the phrase goes, “The child has the parent wound around their little finger.” The happiness of the child is of utmost importance and keeping the peace is essential. They in no way want to make the child angry or upset. There are hardly any rules or boundaries, and even if there are, it is very fuzzy and inconsistent (all the child has to do is throw a tantrum to get around it!). The child is never disciplined or even corrected. Since the parent’s word means nothing to the child, the parent finds that he or she has to use a lot of bribing or rewarding to get the child to do anything (“Beta, if you sit quietly in the meeting, I’ll buy you a batman toy”). In this parenting style, there may be a lot of praise – but not praise that builds up, rather praise that puffs up. It’s a false, exaggerated way of praising (You’re the prettiest, the smartest, etc.). Generally this parenting stems from a lack of low self image within the parent. The parent wants the child to love them. They want to be the child’s best friend rather than the parent. They believe by doing this, the child will confide in them, and be caring towards them. Unfortunately, many times this backfires, and they are the one who the child screams at in anger, disrespects, disregards and takes advantage of.
Children who are parented in this way, grow up as very selfish individuals who believe that the world revolves around them. They don’t care about others and their feelings. They themselves tend to be insecure because of a lack of boundaries. They are not sure about what is right and wrong. Generally they do whatever makes them feel good. Some children tend to have poor academic success because they are not motivated to do well, neither are they trained to be disciplined and to preserve when things get difficult. As they grow older, they may have a lot of clashes with authority – in school, college and then even work. They may keep changing their job because they are unable to get along with people.
3. Celebrity Parent (Neglectful/ Uninvolved)
This parent is caught up with his or her own life. Their goals, their career, their social life or even just their own happiness is of utmost priority. The child is an interference to their lives. The child has come in and disrupted their life. For this parent, making the child independent is very important. This parent is uninvolved in their child’s life. They have no idea who the child’s friends are, what the child watches on television, or what’s going on in their child’s life. Many times the child is looked after by a maid or given gadgets to occupy them. The parent may even be a stay at home mum, who is physically present, but mentally and emotionally absent. Whatsapp, facebook, talking on the phone, or watching serials take priority over spending quality time with their child.
Children brought up by celebrity parents tend to grow up very fast and lose out on their childhood. They learn to fend for themselves early in life. Many do not have values, because no one has bothered to instill it in them. Their friends have a strong influence on them. Because they have not received love at home, they search for it outside. Invariably, there is hardly any parent child bond, and as they grow older, it becomes weaker and weaker.
4. Coach Parent (Authoritarian)
Like the name suggests, these parents are intentional, committed and consider parenting as one of their greatest priorities. They realise that they have a limited time to train their child and want to prepare their children for the real life. They have clear boundaries, but yet are flexible (For example they may have a set bed time for the child, but are open to a late night now and again, maybe to watch a movie, or when a child’s friend comes over). They explain reasons behind rules. A lot of dialoguing happens in the house. The purpose of rules, boundaries and discipline is not for the parent’s sake and for them to look good, but for the sake of the child – to train them up to be responsible and considerate individuals. The child’s feelings are discussed and solutions worked at together. They are aware about what is happening in the child’s life – who the friends are, what the child is struggling with, etc. They are able to transition parenting from toddlerhood to childhood to adolescence and then adulthood. They realise that initially there will be a lot more boundaries but teach the child how to make decisions and loosen the control as the child grows older.
Children of coach parents tend to be emotionally whole. They have a good self esteem and are able to make wise decisions. They know how to conduct themselves in social situations. Although they may make mistakes, they have enough put in them to be able to bounce back up. Generally this parenting creates a strong parent child bond through life, because it is one of respect, trust and love.
Psychological research has shown that of all the four, this is the best way of parenting. Although it is the hardest and requires a lot of thinking through goals, reworking them at every stage, trying to understand each individual child and then persevering when things get tough, the results it produces, far outweighs the other quick fix methods.
If you want to find out what type of parent you are, please click the links below: