Whatcha gonna be for Halloween..Drill Sergeant or Hippie Momma?

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Falling in Love with your Family by Alison

As autumn rolls around again, I get excited for the fall colors and pumpkin bread.  But mostly, I’m just excited to dress up for Halloween.  I always dress up for Halloween, and I’m always the same thing…a 70’s hippie chick.  I love vintage clothes, and it is the only time I dare wear the really nutty dresses I have.  As I looked through my closet, I thought that costumes might help me present the post this week.  So, I’d like to introduce you to Diana Baumrind’s Parenting Styles…with a Halloween twist.

Authoritarian parenting

First, we see the Drill Sergeant.  He is modeling the Authoritarian Parenting Style, with a stern face and a love of rules and regulations.  The key word for this parenting style is CONTROL, and his favorite phrase is “Because I said so.”  Authoritarian Parents are highly demanding, highly regulatory, often use harsh punishments, and have very little warmth or responsiveness to their children.  Have you ever heard the phrase, “I’ll give you something to cry about”?  You were probably eavesdropping on an Authoritarian Parent.  So, how do youngsters raised in this type of environment tend to turn out?  Researchers find that these kids are less likely to engage in problem behaviors, but often have lower self-esteem, higher rates of depression, more anger, less attachment to parents, and poorer social skills.  Okay, so maybe not the best costume for a parent to wear.  Hum…let’s see the next contestant.

Permissive Parenting

Here we have the Hippie.  Fun and indulgent, she is sporting the Permissive Parenting Style.  Everything about her seems to say, “Whatever you want, dear.”  Permissive Parents usually avoid confrontation and are very lenient.  Often warm and responsive, this parenting style focuses on the child regulating himself without much parental structure.  Have you seen a mom getting bossed around by her two-year old?  She was probably a Permissive Parent.  Children raised by Permissive Parents generally have a higher level of self-esteem, but this parenting style has some side effects.  Children are more likely to be involved in problem behavior like substance abuse, have low rates of attachment to parents, and have more trouble in school.

Can’t decide which parenting costume to sport for Halloween?  Do you put on your “I mean it” face or sit back and let kids be kids?  Or do you find yourself going back and forth between styles?  Some parents are harsh and demanding, then give up in exhaustion and let kids do what they want.  Others don’t set boundaries and then get to the end of their rope and end up punishing children harshly without regard for the relationship.  Sometimes we are just so overwhelmed that we are just trying to hold it together day by day and aren’t thinking about what kind of parent we want to be.  But we all want our kids to turn out well.  So, what is the solution?

Luckily, there is another Parenting Style to consider!  It is the Authoritative Parent.  Think of this style as the best of both worlds—high on control and regulation (borrowing from the Authoritarian Drill Sergeant), and high on warmth and responsiveness (more like the Permissive Hippie).  Authoritative Parents monitor children’s behavior, set rules, and have clear standards.  They also value children who are assertive, and encourage children to learn self-control.  Authoritative parents use healthy discipline methods that are supportive, instead of punishing.  No guarantees, but as researchers follow children raised in an Authoritative Style, they find people who are more likely to score high in every area measured. They perform better in school, have lower problem behaviors, enjoy healthy self-esteem, have secure attachment to their parents, and have healthier relationships.  In other words, they are more likely to turn out well.

What to be for Halloween?  How about a nice mix of Drill Sergeant and Hippie Momma?  Authoritative Parenting is the way to go. 

Try this Today:  Do your kids just have to say, “Pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaase” and you’ll give in every time?  Maybe you lean towards the Permissive Style and could use a little more spine.  Keep the great warmth you have naturally, but try to set a few rules and decide what an appropriate consequence should be if they get broken.  Teach your kids what you expect, and then stick to it…every time.  Even if they give you grief.  Even if they give you puppy eyes.  Even if you are tired.  A little more regulation will help your kids in the long run.

And what if you are all rules and no warm fuzzies?  Well, Mrs. Authoritarian, no offense to your momma, but even if you were raised that way and you turned out, you didn’t really like it, did you?  There are so many great discipline techniques that allow you to keep the structure that is so important, while strengthening relationships, which are absolutely vital.  You’re great at setting appropriate limits—so keep it up—but remember that kids need sunshine, too.  Read post #1 and post #2 and try to increase the positive interactions with your family.

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