The other day I saw this viral video on YouTube recorded by a Texan dad reporting from his lawn chair. He vents for five minutes about his teenage daughter who condemned him as a parent on her Facebook wall. Then he goes about teaching her a lesson in a way she’ll NEVER FORGET. Watch it! We posted a link to the video at the end of this blog.
Parenting styles are a hot topic, if measured by the number of views (30 million in February 2012) of this YouTube video. Nowadays kids have their “own” life on Facebook and Twitter, and parents are challenged to keep an eye on how they behave in these unruly digital spaces.
4 Parenting Styles
A useful framework for choosing the best parenting style goes back to 1967, when parenting expert Diana Baumrind proposed her theory of three parenting styles; authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive. In 1983, Maccoby and Martin expanded Baurind’s theory to include a fourth parenting style; neglectful. This conceptual framework continues to be one of the most tried and true ways to think about parenting.
The four parenting styles are based on how demanding and how responsive you are as a parent. So you can be demanding and responsive at the same time and that would make you an authoritative parent.
Responsive and Demanding Parents
When you are highly responsive to your kids’ needs, you are most likely caring, warm, and nurturing. Highly responsive parents convey acceptance, support, connectedness, and availability.
In addition, we have demanding parents who expect and require responsible, appropriate behavior from their children. Highly demanding parents set and enforce clear rules and limits. Their households tend to be characterized by structure and parental authority.
Here are your options:
The Four Parenting Styles
Of the four parenting styles, authoritative parenting is widely considered the approach to strive for. Children typically respond well to a balanced, authoritative parenting style characterized by high levels of structure, responsiveness, and involvement. This parenting style sets forth clear rules, limits, and consequences, but they are not rigid. Parents make an effort to be present for their children and children are given choices within the established family structure. Open communication is practiced and encouraged. Routines, schedules, and a parental standard of follow through help provide a sense of stability and security for children. However, this type of balanced parenting is also responsive and flexible enough to bend the rules on occasion. In decision making, authoritative parents take into consideration what the child is saying and feeling, but the final decision lies with the parents.
Authoritarian, Permissive or Neglectful
The other three parenting styles are generally thought of as lacking in some area. Authoritarian parenting is a strict parenting style that places a high value on obedience, but little value on connectedness. Permissive parents are very loving towards their children, but expect little of them. Neglectful parents are generally uninvolved in their children’s’ lives, other than providing for their basic needs.
Recent studies support the idea that authoritative parenting produces the best adjusted children. Researchers at Brigham Young University (2010) found that teens of authoritative parents were least likely to abuse alcohol or to have friends who use alcohol. Compared to these adolescents, teens of permissive parents were nearly three times more likely to drink heavily and teens of authoritarian parents were more than twice as likely to drink heavily.
Teens Like Legitimate Authority
Even more recently, researchers from University of New Hampshire (2012) conducted the first large scale study relating parenting styles to teen’s perceptions of parental authority and to teen’s delinquent behavior. This study found that adolescents of authoritative parents were more likely to perceive their parents as legitimate authority figures than adolescents of authoritarian or permissive parents. Furthermore, the study found that teens of authoritarian parents were more likely to engage in delinquent behaviors than teens of authoritative or permissive parents.
Dad Communicates via YouTube
Theory and science are clear. And real life parenting is as clear as mud. Watch the video by our Texan dad, and it becomes apparent that while he invested a lot of time and money to fix the teenage daughter’s laptop, he may not be ideally connecting with her (and she not with him), because both prefer to communicate via Facebook and YouTube.
In the video, the dad makes the case that he’s an authoritative parent who’s caring, warm, and nurturing, and that the daughter is not addressing his need to be respected by her. In the mismatch of needs between daughter and father, the latter sacrifices acceptance, support, connectedness, and availability.
When a child is given an extreme and unexpected punishment (watch the video, because she will get PUNISHED), the parent slides down that slippery slope from the legitimate authority figure to the distrusted dictator. Watch the real life video and see the drama unfold.
Carolyn Dimson PhD., LPC,BCB, ia a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver, an M.S. in Counseling Psychology from California State University, Hayward, and a B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University. Dr. Dimson is also Board Certified in Biofeedback by the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance as well as a Board Certified Professional Counselor by the American Psychotherapy Association.