Saturday, July 11, 2015

What's Your Style?

According to some very rudimentary research I just performed in 30 seconds, parenting can fall into styles. Of course I know this. I mean, how many times have I heard people talk about Attachment parenting? I'm guessing that might be a style. But according to someone named Diana Blumberg Baumrind (a clinical and developmental psychologist), three major styles of parenting exist. (Attachment parenting isn't one of them. Neither is Helicopter parenting.):

1. Authoritarian parenting
2. Permissive parenting
3. Authoritative parenting

If you're not sure what these styles encompass, let me explain (and by explain, I mean that I'll cut and paste what I's faster that way):

Authoritarian parenting "emphasizes blind obedience, stern discipline, and controlling children through punishments--which may include the withdrawal of parental affection." Permissive parenting encompasses "emotional warmth and a reluctance to enforce rules." Authoritative parenting is "a more balanced approach in which parents expect kids to meet certain behavioral standards, but also encourage their children to think for themselves and to develop a sense of autonomy." (All quotes taken from this site.)

Eventually, researchers decided that (what I'll call) asshole parents also existed, and so they labeled a fourth parenting style. You know what sort of parent that is, the completely uninvolved one. Hence the parenting style known as Uninvolved parenting. While I doubt I have to define the style, I'll include the definition here for the sake of clarity: "Uninvolved parents are like permissive parents in their failure to enforce standards. But unlike permissive parents, uninvolved parents are not nurturing and warm. They provided kids with food and shelter, but not much else." Deadbeat dads and moms clearly fall into that category.

I've parented now for over 13 years, and I'm not sure I can identify with just one style. I'm also not convinced there are only four styles to choose from. But I can appreciate that parenting styles can fall into broad categories. However--and let me say that I'm no psychologist here--I think we need to make the titles of parenting styles easier to remember. (Uninvolved and permissive are pretty easy to remember, but I'm guessing that Authoritarian and Authoritative can get confusing.)

So I've taken it upon myself to label three new parenting styles, and they are:

1. The Christina
2. The Tara
3. The Gina

Yes, I've named these styles for my sisters and me.

Instead of simply defining these styles, I want you to walk with me, into your imagination for a moment. Imagine you're sitting at the table with your family, eating dinner. Your youngest prefers to eat with a fork that is clean. Of course the mere fact that she is eating causes the fork to collect food particles, and that can be a problem. She leans over and shows you the fork, which upon inspection, proves to have a minute (as in size of a gnat) piece of potato on it and the child wants to use the fork to eat her chicken. What a dilemma, you know? What do you do to help her?

If you use The Christina style of parenting you will, without a word, take her fork in your hands, grab a napkin, wipe the fork, and hand it back to her. You emphasize the action by completing it slowly, so she can learn what the proper response is. You also use your eyes to tell her (silently) that the next time, she'll know what to do. And because you're confident about your actions (and gentle in performing them), she will know.

But maybe you aren't that type of parent, and instead you follow The Tara approach. If that's the case, in a very loud and clear voice you say, "What do you want me to do with it?" You then proceed to eat your own dinner and know in your heart that the child will come up with some way to fix the fork herself. A minute later, you look over to find that yes, your child has figured out that by either wiping the fork with a napkin or by licking the fork, it is clean enough for her to move on to her chicken.

Not everyone is either so silent or so loud, and that's where we also have The Gina. In a very low and nurturing voice you say, "Oh sweetie. How can we fix this? What's the solution to the problem?" With this style, you put your own dinner to the side while you discuss all the options in front of her, from getting a new fork, to wiping the fork with a napkin, to licking the fork. You make sure your child is confident in her choice before moving back toward your own dinner.

I'm sure to get flack from my sisters about this post, but when I posited this theory to the kids, they all nodded their heads up and down in agreement. "Yes," they said. "That's exactly how you three parent." The outcome is really the's the in between steps that differ.

And don't you think Christina, Tara, and Gina are easier to remember?


Cup of Crazy said...

Shocking to no one, I'm a Tara.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, I love this!!

I had no clue there were types of parenting (how silly of me... there are classifications for EVERYTHING). My parents were definitely in-betweeners... they bounced back and forth from authoritarian to uninvolved (though they stayed enough in the authoritarian side to avoid the technical term of "asshole parents").

I have to say, The Christina, The Tara, and The Gina do make soo much more sense to me. The clean fork examples are just perfect to understand the differences. All three sound perfectly legit and acceptable... so if you get any flack from your sisters, just tell them they came across as very caring moms.

Also, to whomever needs a clean fork to eat... I'm on her side. I always lick my fork clean of one food before moving on to another ;)

T said...

Omg I just read this to Ava. She says you observed us very closely!!