Are you too involved, not involved enough or involved just the right amount in your kids' lives? Image Credit: Ramachandra Babu/©Gulf News

What’s your strategy when parenting? You may say you have none and are just stumbling through it the best you can, but considering all the pockets created, you may find yourself slipping into a definition yet. It began as a set of four patterns back in the 1900s, which psychologists still recognise decades after they were identified: authoritative, permissive, uninvolved and authoritarian. Over the years there have been a number of offshoots and unofficial terms to define child management practices. Here’s a look at the terms making the rounds – which do you identify with?

Authoritarian: The ‘I say you do’ style of parenting may ensure subservience and incite fear – but that’s only for a while. In this sort of child rearing, the parent establishes strict rules and calls upon the child to obey, no explanations needed. US-based National Center for Biotechnology Information quotes a paper titled’ Types of Parenting Styles and Effects On Children’, that explains, “They expect their children to uphold these standards while making no errors. Mistakes usually lead to punishment.”

Authoritative: This type of parenting could also be called responsive parenting, for as in the case of any good manager, the parents mould their style to one that suits the child. American Psychological Association (APA) says, “In this parenting style, the parents are nurturing, responsive, and supportive, yet set firm limits for their children. They attempt to control children's behaviour by explaining rules, discussing, and reasoning. They listen to a child's viewpoint but don't always accept it.”

The result, it concludes are young people who know their own minds, are friendly, achievement oriented and cheerful.

Permissive: Everything is okay in this household, where kids seem to set the rules. The parents are warm but they do not set firm rules. These children tend to be more entitled and impulsive, and low in self-reliance, self-control and achievement.

Uninvolved: The aloof parent is not there – even when they are physically present. This level of indifference breeds low self-esteem and a skewed idea of oneself. APA says, “Children raised with this parenting style tend to seek other, sometimes inappropriate, role models to substitute for the neglectful parent.”

Conscious: Luz Maria Villagras S., a UAE-based Conscious Parenting Coach, Hypnosis Therapist and Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner, explains that this style of parenting is actually more about the parent than it is the child. It focuses on learning about your own triggers and how to counter them; it’s about breaking patterns that have been established and handed down from generation to generation as a prized method to raise kids. She says: “In conscious parenting, you say, alright I brought you into this world; I take full responsibility to guide you through my example.” US-based WebMD states on its website that “conscious parenting involves being intentional about the parenting decisions you make”.

Helicopter: Are you a hoverer? Then you may be venturing into this territory. According to a study by American Psychological Association, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, over-controlling parents tend to stunt mental and emotional growth, resulting in children with behavioural issues. “Our research showed that children with helicopter parents may be less able to deal with the challenging demands of growing up, especially with navigating the complex school environment,” Nicole B. Perry, PhD, from the University of Minnesota, and lead author of the study, said at the time. “Children who cannot regulate their emotions and behavior effectively are more likely to act out in the classroom, to have a harder time making friends and to struggle in school.”

Snow plough: An offshoot – and perhaps worse - strategy is this sort of parenting, which is also called lawnmower parenting or bulldozer parenting. Essentially, the style aims to remove all obstacles in the child’s path to save them from pain, failure or discomfort. There’s just one problem – these hurdles are also character builders. A child with this sort of parent is tumbling into a difficult space. Web MD says: “Snowplow parenting will look different for each child. It typically starts off small and seemingly inconsequential, but normalising the habit will set them up for harsh failure later.”

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