Which Type of Parent Are You, and Which Type Do You Want To Be?I’m sure you’ve told your children the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. (Maybe you’ve even acted it out in your living room or with put on a show with puppets.) Goldilocks becomes lost in the woods and finds haven in the Bear’s empty house.
With a rumbling belly, she curiously tastes their porridge; one is too hot, one is too cold and the other is just right. With tired legs, she tests out their chairs; one is much too big, another is just a little too big, and the third is just right. With fatigue she rests in their beds; one is too hard, one is too soft, and the other is just right. The Bear family is completely absent throughout her escapades in their home.
Goldilock’s peculiar pattern of “too hard” then “too soft” then “just right” is a fitting parallel for parenting styles. Even the absent Bear family mirrors a parenting type. In the 1960s, Diana Baumrind, an influential developmental psychologist, categorized parenting into three different categories, similar to Goldilock’s style. A fourth type, in alignment with the Bears, was added later.
- Authoritarian/Strict – “too hard”
- Permissive/Indulgent – “too soft”
- Authoritative – “just right”
- Uninvolved – too distant
Authoritarian/Strict: “too hard”
Similar to Papa Bear’s bed, authoritarian parents are too strict and too hard. Control and obedience are of the utmost importance, and therefore punishment is necessary. The lack of warmth often pushes the children toward low self-esteem, social difficulties, anxiety or depression. Children of these parents drift toward being a victim of bullying or being a bully. Plus they are less mature than others their age and tend to be less popular.
- Sons of authoritarian mothers are more likely to develop weight control issues and to be aggressive.
- Daughters of authoritarian mothers are more likely to engage in binge-eating behaviors and are generally less independent.
- Children of authoritarian parents are at risk for social anxiety, more likely to be fearful, have a shy personality and be discontent.
Are you an authoritative parent? Do you:
- Expect your child to obey all of your rules without knowing the reasons behind them?
- Punish your child so he/she will behave the way that you want him/her to behave?
- Include your child in decisions that impact them?
- Regularly express love and act warmly toward your child?
Permissive/Indulgent: “too soft”
Mama Bear’s bed was “too soft,” and so are permissive parents. They indulge their children with warmth and love; these types of parents are overly nurturing. But this outlook completely lacks discipline, consequences, and conflict. There often is a lack of follow-up with punishments and variable inconsistency.
Clearly, children prefer this parenting style because the kids typically get exactly what they want from their parents! However, children of permissive and indulgent parents are three times more likely to become a heavy drinker throughout adolescence.
Children of permissive and indulgent parents tend to:
- Lack self-control
- Not have self-discipline
- Struggle with insecurity and authority
- Be self-centered
- Have higher levels of self-esteem
- Not experience anxiety or depression.
Are you a permissive or indulgent parent? Do you:
- Try to be your child’s friend instead of your child’s parent?
- Bribe your child to get what you want?
- Avoid conflict?
- Fear that your child will not be happy if you enforce rules and follow through with their appropriate consequences?
Uninvolved: “too distant”
The Bear family was completely absent while Golidlocks was exploring their home. Uninvolved parents are the same way. They are simply not present, therefore they aren’t warm or demanding either. Their absence could be considered as physical, relational, emotional, educational or recreational neglect.
This is the most dangerous and harmful type of parenting. The children of uninvolved parents have difficulty forming healthy relationships, develop trust issues, and are the most likely child to become a juvenile delinquent.
If you know an uninvolved parent or a child of an uninvolved parent, please seek assistance from a school counselor, therapist or doctor.
Are you an uninvolved parent? Do you:
- Provide you child with the basic needs of food, water, clothing, shelter and love?
- Know what takes place in your child’s life? (Who their teacher is at school, where they hang out with their friends, what you child enjoys doing, etc.)
- Avoid spending time with your child?
- Spend significant time away from your child, or make excuses about having to be near your child?
Authoritative: “just right”
Golidlocks was able to find the sweet spot of “just right.” The sweet spot of parenting is authoritative parents.There is the most effective balance between warm and firm, support and expectations, structure and rules, relationship and independence.
Children of authoritative parents:
- Thrive at school
- Are task-oriented
- Experience intrinsic motivation
- Have emotional strength
- Are confident
- Are well-behaved
- Are social
- Do not often experience anxiety or depression.
Are you an authoritative parent? Do you:
- Have a routine and schedule to life?
- Set and enforce rules? Follow through with the designated consequences?
- Explain your expectations to your child?
- Allow your child to make mistakes and learn from their actions?
- Talk to your child about more than surface level topics?
- Listen to your child’s feelings, opinions and thoughts?
Which Type of Parent Are You? Take a quiz!
After reading through the four styles above, you probably have a decent idea of which type of parent you are. But if you’re still curious, take this short quiz or this quiz to better understand your style.
Which Type of Parent Do You Want To Be?
Now that you’ve discovered what type of parent you are, consider what that really means. Go back and read the section about your parenting style. Which elements do you appreciate? Which areas would you like to improve upon?
Now consider what kind of parent you want to be. Which description makes your heart flutter with joy over being that kind of parent? How can you shift your thoughts and actions to transform your parenting and therefore build a better relationship with your child?
No matter which type of parent you are and which kind you want to be, remember that the most important thing is that you love your child!