Attune means harmony. This blog is about harmonizing ourselves in our connection to others and to our planet. I bow to basic goodness in our world and in relationships encourage opening our hearts with love and compassion.

Developing a Balanced Parenting Style

By: Susan Grey Smith, Ph.D., LMFT

 February 11, 2014

Parenting is a tough job that is getting tougher every day. Parents and children face challenges that our parents never had to deal with. Life is fast paced and there never seems to be enough time. Parents end up thinking that somehow they are to blame for the problems their children deal with. We think, “If only I could be more consistent, more patient, calmer, I could raise a problem free child.” Well that is just not true! As parents we do the best we can juggling our responsibilities and busy schedules.

The world is changing at a whirl wind pace and if it is challenging for adults to keep up, imagine what it must be like for our children. Today’s parenting information market is full of advise intended to ease the burden of knowing how to best respond to our children’s needs. It seems that instead of helping to relieve us of worry it has created a lot of confusion. In an information driven society, we are all falling victim to listening to the voices of others instead of following our own hearts and minds.

Instinctively we know that good parenting requires a balance between nurturing our children and teaching them how to self-discipline. How do you as a parent find a good balance that is a comfortable fit for you? Diana Baumrind (1978) identified three parenting styles that have held up to strong scientific inquiry over time: authoritarian, permissive, and democratic.

•  Authoritarian Parenting Style . A high value is placed on discipline to obtain obedience so as parents we rely on strategies that are punitive. Parents punish children to put them in their place and maintain a parenting heirarchy, even when children are developmentally able to start thinking more for themselves. As parents we tend to be detached, controlling, and demanding and our children are more likely to be discontented, withdrawn, and distrustful.

•  Permissive Parenting Style . A high value is placed on having our children like us so as parents we rely on strategies that are noncontrolling and nondemanding. As parents we tend to be too relaxed, under-involved, and lenient and our children are less self-reliant, explorative, and self-controlled.

•  Democratic Parenting Style . This is the balanced style, using elements of the other two styles in a unique combination of high control and positive encouragement toward autonomy and independence. As parents we value our children’s will power and encourage them to make rational choices. Our children are more self-reliant, self-controlled, and explorative.

If you think your parenting style need some coaching, get in touch with a family therapist. Family therapy is not about giving advise on how to parent although family therapists are informed about the latest scientific research findings. It is about helping you find your way though a maze of information to develop a balanced parenting style that fits your lifestyle and your family’s needs.

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