Dr. Rich Patterson

Parenting Styles: Which is Right?

I like to compare parenting styles to leadership because parenting is an advanced form of leadership to be sure.  Effective leaders for which I have worked had the ability to shift their leadership style depending on the person, situation and/or group involved.  Some times they were very direct, specific and clear even down to the steps that needed to be taken.  Other times they give a general sense of what they want and allow the person to be creative and design their own approach.

As an educator for over 40 years I see three basic parenting styles from which parents natural style tends to operate.  The first is Autocratic Style Parenting.  This is usually where the kids know what is expected and they also know that cannot deviate from it or else discipline will follow.  Some times, some kids need this depending, but it is a parental preference for sure.

The second style is what I call Permissive Parenting.  Often this is where the parent would rather not discipline or disagree with the child and want them to be happy.  They usually want to be their friend and for some kids, this parenting style really works. Oddly, it often does not result in happiness.  Let’s look at the third style.

The style that I recommend is Firm and Fair Parenting.  It uses a clear approach to non-negotiable areas and the reasons behind why they are in place.  Adding the “why” to this style of parenting may just be the best part of it.  The Fair part of is says that everyone has a chance to give their opinion, and then the decision may or may not be made as a result of that input.  The discipline involved in this style is more helpful than punitive.  For example, if the child has done something out of character, rather than confining them to their room, which they already do in many cases, restrict them to a part of the home or living area.  In this style, the focus is on the relationships, and helping them to understand the thoughts behind them.

I often see parents arguing with kids about things that really don’t matter.  If the topic doesn’t involve safety or well-being, it may be wise to simply say to them, “What are your thoughts on this?”  “What do you think you should do next?”  Then when they answer, if you see some flaws in their thinking, you can say, “Give that a try, you may find that some of that needs a bit of tweaking” or “I have some thoughts on that when you’re ready.”  Then they come to you for discussion and have a chance to share both ways.

The approach is that of cooperation more than obedience.    Obedience requires conformity, not thinking, it requires silence in may ways, not giving your own best thinking.

Yours for Better Parenting–Rich