Parenting Insights, Part II

13 Aug

Our last post looked at the SUPPORT/GUIDANCE model of parenting. Remember that there were two dimensions, a horizontal one for SUPPORT and a vertical one for GUIDANCE (or discipline). We now have four quadrants, which I will describe in detail and name.

We’ll start with the quadrant in the lower right-hand side, which you will notice demonstrates high support but low guidance. Parents who fall into this category of parenting are supportive in listening to their children’s concerns and issues, but fail to set guidelines for their behavior. They reveal their lack of guidance by not letting their children know what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior, by not telling them what the consequences of their actions may be, and by not giving them a framework by which to learn self-discipline. This parenting style is called permissive.

Now we move to the lower left-hand quadrant, where you can see that there is both low support and low guidance. Parents who fall into this style of parenting are simply not there at all for their children. They may be abusing a substance, having an extramarital affair, or be workaholics. Whatever their particular case is, the children are growing up like orphans without any emotional support and without any input into what is acceptable behavior. This horrendous style of parenting is called neglectful, and unfortunately today all too many of our nation’s children find themselves rudderless on a wide sea.

Moving to the upper left-hand quadrant, we notice that this style of parenting is low in support but high in guidance. These parents easily bark out orders to their children. They may demand that middle school or teen students do most of the housework, without considering that this time in a young person’s life is the time that they need to be involved in lots of healthy extracurricular activities — sports, school clubs, 4H, Scouts, etc., etc. This is the time during which these young people also need to practice peer relationships, negotiating activities, with friends, and so forth. These parents who don’t have time to listen to their children’s needs and wishes, but instead set strict guidelines for their behavior, are practicing an authoritarian style of parenting. This style does not produce young adults who are confident in their own decision-making powers. Instead they may be rebellious or go to the other extreme of being anxious and frightened about changes that will naturally occur in their lives.

The fourth quadrant, the one to the upper right-hand section of the diagram, demonstrates high support AND high guidance. Not only are these parents THERE for their children to listen and to hear beyond the words, these parents also make their children feel secure by setting good guidelines, letting them know what is acceptable behavior, and both giving and demanding respect. This style of parenting — greatly superior to all the other styles — is called authoritative.

In our next post, we will allow you to evaluate your own parenting style. You can take the little quiz in two different ways: You can take it as the parent, BUT you can also take it to help you see how you were parented! Until next time, happy parenting!



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