On Parenting Styles

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 Q: Getting ready for my first child to be born, I’ve heard about many styles of parenting. How do pediatricians feel about these styles?

Dr. Kibler

Dr. Elise Kibler, Capital Pediatric Group, Austin

Response from Elise Kibler, M.D., Capital Pediatric Group

A:  Parenting styles can vary significantly.  There are a number of different parenting styles.  In my opinion, parents need to be flexible with their parenting style.  Children of different ages and maturity levels will need different parenting styles.  Different situations over the course of a day may call on different parenting styles as well.

Attachment parenting encourages parental proximity to the child, consistent caregiving by parents, and protective parenting style which meets the basic needs of the child.  Parents usually sleep in the same room as the child as well.  This is a good style to support when the child is young and fully dependent on the parent.

 

Another parenting style is authoritative parenting.  With this style of parenting, parents respond to concerns and questions from their children.  They are also willing to adjust plans based on the needs and wishes of their child.  Parents do have rules that their children are expected to follow, but parents are flexible and adjust to the situation at hand.  Discipline involves supporting their children when they are making good decisions rather than being overly negative.  This parenting style encourages independence and is appropriate for children beyond infancy.
 
A third style of parenting is authoritarian parenting.  In this style, the child is expected to follow strict rules established by the parents.  This set of rules is set by the parents and non-negotiable.  Failure to follow the rules results in punishment.  This style of parenting plays a role in certain situations, but requires a high level of maturity on the part of the child to comply.  Certain rules require an authoritarian style of parenting such as “don’t open the door for strangers”, “no drugs or alcohol”, and “no hitting or biting”.  Parents need to pick their battles.  When authoritarian style of parenting is used constantly or restricts a child’s ability to make their own decisions it can lead to insecurity and anxiety.
 
Permissive parenting involves letting the child do whatever they want without regard to the needs or wants of other people.  These parents are still responsive to their child and play the role of a “friend” more than an authoritative figure.  This may serve a role from time to time such as on birthdays and special occasions.  My children periodically have a “special day” where they can pick what they want to do and where they want to go.  Although the child has a sense of total control, it is important to allow options that are feasible and desirable for the parent as well.  For instance, if the child wants to go to a place that is not safe or too far away the parent will ask the child to pick another option? Giving the child a sense of control periodically can be very healthy for a child and allows them to cope with situations such as getting shots at their check-up where they lost control.
 

Uninvolved parents are not responsive to their children, do not provide limitations, and are basically absent in their child’s life.  This style of parenting plays no role in a healthy parent-child relationship.

 
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