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Why Do Parenting Styles Matter? A Deep Dive into the Psychology Behind Parenting Choices

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Parenting is a journey that requires continual learning and growth. As you gain an understanding of how your kids think and feel, you can adapt your approach to best nurture them. Knowledge provides clarity that helps guide your choices.

For an individual, parenting styles guide how they look at themselves, others, and the world around them. Parenting styles shape the parent-child relationship and influence one's development[1].

Knowing these styles can help you reflect on your own approach and determine where you may want to adjust to better nurture your child's development and well-being. It is also important as it brings insight into who we are and helps us better understand ourselves. The key is to remain open, observant and willing to learn and adapt as your children grow.


Parenting Styles and its impact

TYPES OF PARENTING STYLES

Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parents can be strict and controlling. They value obedience and demand their orders be followed without question. Children have little input or freedom to make their own choices[2]. While this style may produce children who are disciplined and proficient, it often results in children who lack self-confidence, have poor social skills, and might as well struggle with anxiety or depression.

Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parents balance discipline with responsiveness. They set clear rules and reasonable limits, but also encourage open communication. Authoritative parents value both setting limits and supporting children's independence. This approach tends to produce children who are happy, socially adept, and academically successful.

Both these styles talk about children growing up either in very harsh environments and depressed, or being happy and successful. It is important to note that this may not always be the case. External environments also play a huge role in how we feel and are. Parenting styles are important to know of to understand our sense of being- our relationship with ourselves, others, and the world[3].

Permissive Parenting

Permissive parents make few demands and rarely enforce rules. They are very responsive to their children's needs but lack follow-through. Permissive parenting often results in children who lack self-discipline, have poor work ethic, and struggle academically. While permissive parents are warm and accepting, their children may have trouble coping with frustration or accepting responsibility.

Neglectful or Uninvolved Parenting

Neglectful parents fail to provide basic care, support, and supervision for their children. This style of parenting is considered child maltreatment and neglect. Children suffer in many areas of development and are at high risk for physical, mental health, and behavioural issues. Neglect has lifelong negative consequences.

With time, there are a few new parenting styles that have also come up. These include helicopter parenting and free-range parenting.

These can be put on a grid like the one below [you can also check it here]:

Parenting Styles

Sub-types of Parenting Styles

Helicopter Parenting

Helicopter parenting refers to parents who keep a very close watch on their children and intervene frequently in their lives. Helicopter parents tend to be overly involved and protective. While wanting the best for their kids, these parents can inadvertently hinder their children's ability to develop independence, problem-solving skills, and resilience.

Free Range Parenting

Free-range parenting is an approach that gives children more autonomy and freedom of movement. Parents set basic guidelines but grant significant independence. Free-range parents allow their children to engage in normal risks and problem-solve on their own. While this style encourages self-reliance, it may leave children ill-prepared for serious dangers or risks.

Overall, experts recommend that parents find a balanced approach that provides both nurturing guidance and opportunities for children to gain independence at their own pace. Consider your child's temperament, personality and needs to determine where they fall on the spectrum between more restrictive and more permissive styles. The most important thing is to be thoughtfully engaged in your child's life while granting them increasing freedom as they mature.

In reality, you might not sit in any one style exactly. Instead, you may well float somewhere within the grid shared above. Are you a bit overwhelmed? Let’s break them down together.

HOW DOES PARENTING STYLE IMPACT ONE'S IDEA OF SELF

The way you are raised by your parents or guardians has a significant impact on how you view yourself. Those raised with an Authoritarian Style tend to have a weaker sense of self. These children are expected to follow strict rules set by parents without question or explanation. They are often criticised and punished harshly for disobedience.

This parenting approach leads to feelings of inadequacy in children and an external locus of control. They believe that outcomes in their lives are determined by external forces outside of their control. Their self-esteem suffers as a result.

In contrast, children raised with a Permissive Style, where parents make few demands and rarely discipline, tend to have higher self-esteem. However, they may lack self-discipline and confidence in their abilities. They never learn how to handle frustration or work through challenging tasks. This style, though well-intentioned, does a disservice to children with regard to a few aspects as mentioned.

The Authoritative Style, characterised by clear rules, encouragement, warmth, and autonomy support, leads to the most positive outcomes. Children feel heard and respected but also learn self-control and responsibility. They develop a strong sense of self and belief in their abilities to influence outcomes. Research shows children of authoritative parents tend to be happy, independent and successful.[4]

Helicopter Parenting can also impact a child's sense of self, though in different ways. While it comes from a well-intentioned desire to protect children, it often backfires. Children raised this way can develop lower self-confidence as they never learn to solve problems on their own or push through challenges independently. Anxiety and difficulty coping with failure are also common among them since helicopter parents try to prevent any struggles or difficulties.

The Free-range Parenting Style has some similarities to the authoritative approach. Parents set clear boundaries but give children the autonomy to explore, play and make decisions within those limits. However, free-range parents tend to be less involved and hands-off compared to authoritative parents. While this style can help children develop independence and self-reliance, it risks going too far. Some children raised this way may lack sufficient guidance to develop essential life skills. They also run the risk of danger since parents are less attentive to their whereabouts and activities.[5]

Finding the right balance of guidance, discipline, warmth, and independence is key to raising children with a healthy sense of self and belief in their own abilities. The parenting style you choose will have lasting impacts, for better or worse, on a child's psychological well-being and identity.


Which parenting style resonates with you the most?

  • 0%Authoritarian Parenting

  • 0%Authoritative Parenting

  • 0%Permissive Parenting

  • 0%Neglectful Parenting

You can vote for more than one answer.


HOW DO PARENTING STYLES AFFECT THE ADULT RELATIONSHIPS AND MENTAL HEALTH

The style of parenting you experienced as a child significantly impacts your mental health and relationships as an adult. Authoritarian parenting, characterised by harsh discipline and lack of affection, is linked to higher risks of anxiety, depression, and insecure attachment in adulthood. In contrast, children raised with authoritative parenting, which balances warmth, structure, and high expectations, tend to have better emotional regulation, social skills, and mental health.[6]

Attachment Style

The bond between parent and child establishes a blueprint for how that child will interact in relationships as an adult. Secure attachment, developed through responsive, sensitive parenting, leads to healthier relationships based on trust, intimacy, and interdependence. Insecure attachment from inconsistent or neglectful parenting is associated with clinginess, distrust, and difficulties maintaining relationships.[7]

Self-Esteem and Mental Health

Parenting styles that are highly critical, and controlling, and convey a lack of warmth often result in low self-esteem,[8] feelings of worthlessness, and increased vulnerability to mental illness.[9] Children who experience rejection or lack of affection from parents face higher risks of depression and anxiety disorders. On the other hand, children raised with empathy, praise, and encouragement tend to have a strong sense of self-worth and resilience.

While the effect of parenting is lifelong, it is never too late to make positive changes. Therapy and conscious effort to build secure attachments can help overcome the impact of unhealthy parenting. The single most important thing is giving your children the gift of your time, affection, and an awareness of their needs. By focusing on listening without judgment, accepting your child as they are, and creating an open environment for discussion, you set them up to become independent, caring, and well-adjusted adults.[10] In the end, the influence of parenting comes down to the relationship between child and parent. A little love, understanding and patience can go a long way.

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