We all have perceptions of what kind of parent we're going to be before we have kids. We can read a million different books, take classes, watch youtube videos, or get advice from family and friends. But, in the end you are most likely going to parent your kids similarly to how you were raised, and I'm pretty sure we all have some things we'd like to do differently with our children than how our parents raised us.
So what kind of parent does that make you? I'm going to tell you the three main categories of parenting, and which one is most successful. If you've notice friction between you and your child, especially if they're in those pesky, hormonal teenage years, maybe this article can help guide you to a smoother relationship with your young.
1. Authoritarian. This type of parenting is much like a dictator. It requires full control over ones children, and demands obedience and perfection from its children. Authoritarian parents create all the rules, and their children follow or get punished. To some parents, this can seem like the only way to get through to their rebellious children, but I have proof that it may not be as good of a parenting type than one might think.
I have a friend, let's call her Beth, whose mother was very, very strict. When we were in high school, she would constantly go through my Beth's bedroom and closet, throwing away what she thought Beth didn't need anymore and never asking Beth's permission. Naturally, Beth felt like she had absolutely no privacy. However, whenever she tried to confront her mother about anything she wanted her mother not to do, Beth would immediately get punished and her phone would get taken away. Beth eventually ended up meeting a boy, dropped out of high school and fled to the other side of the country to get away from her controlling mother. They're still together, and she's happier than ever, but I bet Beth's life would have been much different if her mother had been more supportive and had let Beth have a voice in their household.
2. Permissive Parenting (Laissez-Faire). This is the exact opposite of authoritarian parenting, and possibly worse in my opinion. Permissive parenting is when parents do not punish their children's misbehavior. Instead, parents assume their child will always make the right choice, so anything bad they are accused of doing (say, at school) could never have possibly been their child's fault. All of the parent's sympathy goes to their child. Many children with parents of this style grow up to be self-centered, lacking empathy and more easily angered than others. Children with this type of parents will also have trouble with responsibilities when they get older, and holding themselves accountable for problems that arise in their lives.
3. Democratic Parenting. This is the most ideal parenting style. In democratic parenting, parents include their child in the process of punishment. There is no condescension or baby-talk in this parenting style, instead parents address their children as equals. Punishments are also considered "consequences" for children's actions, rather than "punishments" which are much more archaic. This consequence is always related to the offense.
For example, one time I had a friend spend the night and we snuck out to go across the street and get taco bell at 2am. My mom found out and took away my guitar. This punishment not only had no connection to my sneaking out, but kept me from practicing my instrument. A better punishment would have been to not allow me to have anyone spend the night for a month, even though what we did was pretty harmless.
My opinion is that democratic parenting is most constructive for children whose parents adopt this style. It promotes responsibility, individuality, and a better relationship between parents and their children.
This isn't to say that parents who lean more towards the permissive or authoritarian styles are doing it wrong. There are definitely positives and negatives in every style. However, I think we can all learn from the studies on the positive effects of democratic parenting.