Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when parents realize that there are different parenting styles with one of them being preferred over all the others. All parents are individuals and parent in their distinct way, but their parenting practices can be categorized into a certain parenting style.
Diana Baumrind performed scholarly research and found information that is widely supported by professionals helping families. She discovered that parenting practices can be categorized as the coercive parenting style (otherwise known as authoritarian), the permissive parenting style, and the authoritative parenting style. Other researchers added a fourth category known as the uninvolved or disengaged parent.
Parents using the coercive/hostile/authoritarian style use any means available to control their children physically or psychologically. The parents rule the home and family and use control and coercion to do so. The negative atmosphere in authoritarian homes often leads children to become anti-social, withdrawn, and/or delinquent.
Parents using the permissive parenting style overindulge or neglect their children by giving them too much stuff and too little guidance. These parents consider their children to be equal to adults in rights and privileges but not in terms of responsibilities. They have some control over their children but less than either authoritarian or authoritative. Children of permissive parents have greater difficulty in respecting other people, handling frustration, or delaying their gratification. They want what they want, and they want it NOW. They are quite social, but they usually do not do well academically.
Parents using the authoritative parenting style focus on the positive aspects of parenting. They develop close relationships with their children, but they also place limits on them. They teach their children how to work and how to behave, but they allow them to make choices within certain limits. They have rules and regulations in their homes with consequences attached, but they carry out the punishments with love, respect, and sensitivity. They reason and guide their children to behave appropriately, and they show proper examples of the desired behavior.
Jennifer Graham has an article in the Deseret News about different parenting types. She discusses the parenting styles discovered by researchers, but she also shares some common – or uncommon – names for the different practices. We all know about “helicopter parents” who hover over their children and the “soccer moms,” but some of the other names given are new to me. Have you heard of drones, bulldozers, snowplows, lawnmower, jellyfish, submarines, concierge, Sherpa, or hummingbird?
According to Graham and the experts she quotes, bulldozer, snowplow, and lawnmower parents tend to move difficulties out of the way of their children rather than teach them how to deal with them. Helicopter parents hover over their children to protect them without giving them any independence. Drone parents use military-like precision to see that their child’s path is not encumbered by obstacles to success. Sherpa parents resemble the mountain guides who carry gear for climbers. Concierge parents strive to make sure that their children are always “clean and comfortable” even after they leave home. Jellyfish parents are permissive and overindulge. Hummingbird and submarine parents are close by to help children if necessary but allow their children to use agency and be independent.
Graham closes her interesting and amusing article with a quote from parenting expert John Rosemond. He praises the work of Baumrind and says that it “finds that parents who adhere, today, to a traditional parenting ethic, emphasizing unconditional love and firm discipline, raise the most well-adjusted children.” In other words, he supports the authoritative parenting style. In the words of Graham, parents should strive to be authoritative and not act as heavy equipment (authoritarian) or be squishy (passive).