Whats your style? Thats the question on the mind of every social worker who completes homestudies (or so I’ve been told). No, they are not looking to see if you know which bag will work best with a pair of stilettos, they are all curious as to your parenting style.
So RB and I had a serious parenting style talk last night. Though it was the farthest thing from serious, because we have long ago discussed in great detail and have always known what our parenting style will be, we just didn’t know the Baumrind definition.
So what is it?
Well, here are the four parenting styles Baumrind laid out in 1967:
The Four Parenting Styles
1. Authoritarian Parenting
In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow the strict rules established by the parents. Failure to follow such rules usually results in punishment. Authoritarian parents fail to explain the reasoning behind these rules. If asked to explain, the parent might simply reply, “Because I said so.” These parents have high demands, but are not responsive to their children. According to Baumrind, these parents “are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation”.
2. Authoritative Parenting
Like authoritarian parents, those with an authoritative parenting style establish rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow. However, this parenting style is much more democratic. Authoritative parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions. When children fail to meet the expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing. Baumrind suggests that these parents “monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative” .
3. Permissive Parenting
Permissive parents, sometimes referred to as indulgent parents, have very few demands to make of their children. These parents rarely discipline their children because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control. According to Baumrind, permissive parents “are more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation” (1991). Permissive parents are generally nurturing and communicative with their children, often taking on the status of a friend more than that of a parent.
4. Uninvolved Parenting
An uninvolved parenting style is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication. While these parents fulfill the child’s basic needs, they are generally detached from their child’s life. In extreme cases, these parents may even reject or neglect the needs of their children.
And here are their repercussions:
- Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but they rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.
- Authoritive parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable and successful (Maccoby, 1992).
- Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.
- Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across all life domains. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.
So which one best fits RB and I? It’s an obvious answer. We are so totally authoritative.
We both believe that raising a child is about teaching a child. You cannot teach a kid right from wrong, actions and reactions… anything, really- without explaining why.
For example, if you’re a small child about to touch a hot oven we’re going to tell you no. Your curious little amazing mind is inevitably going to ask why. If we tell you, Because we said so, that does nothing… because when we’re not around guess whose having a hot oven touching party? But if we explain to you, on your level that it’s for your own safety so you don’t get injured, you will understand why touching a hot oven is not something we don’t allow, for your safety.
We both agree that this carries over to pretty much everything. Our rules will be enforced, but you’re always going to be encouraged to ask why they are in place. We want to teach you to always be curious- never just take things for what they are. Ask a lot of questions in life, don’t be a follower for followings sake. Be curious and find out why things are the way they are, be a critical thinker (because not being a critical thinker and curious and asking why is far more dangerous than any hot oven, trust me.)
For another example, lets say you’re sixteen and we have set a curfew for you of 10:00 PM. You may ask why, and we will probably regale you with a giant list of reasons (Safety on the roads, getting adequate sleep, knowing where you are, etc.) But lets just say you want to see a movie that ends at 10:10 PM… of course, thats something up for discussion. We are definitely not going to be the parents whose kid is speeding home dangerously to get in before curfew as to not get in trouble. That defeats the purpose, which is keeping you safe.
On the flip side of the equation, we are not going to be total push overs. Its a big balancing act, but we believe that a family is democracy, for the most part. You’ll have to earn your privledges, just like you do in the real world. Freedom isn’t always free, you have to work hard to be successful in life. But we’re not going to be slave drivers or expect you to be perfect, because you’re human and no one is perfect (of course you’ll always be perfect in our eyes though…but I think every parent thinks that way!) We’re not going to demand straight A’s, but we will demand that you put your best effort in to your work. We won’t be up until 3 AM doing your project for you, but we will work tirelessly with you to help you learn from the project.
I know a lot of people may think that we’re jumping the gun in thinking about these things. A lot of parents think about the basics, whats in front of them right now – the onesies, burping cloths, binkies, bouncy chairs, colors of nursery walls- and we do think about those things too, but they aren’t the big picture here. We’re not raising an infant for the rest of your life, we are raising a human being.
RB and I have always had that frame of thinking around everything. Weddings are very similiar, and we’re convinced thats why so many marriages fall apart. A wedding is one day in your life, and a wedding day does not make a marriage. So many people focus on the flowers, the dress, the music their going to walk down the aisle to, the favors and what color ribbon will be on the tulle bunting… but none of that means a thing. What really matters is the marriage- and the wedding day is only a celebration of that marriage.
Before RB and I even got engaged, we talked. A lot. About everything under the sun. We made sure we were on the same page with every single scenario we might face in our life. (Of course I’m sure there will be situations and obstacles we’ll face that we didn’t discuss- there already are- but the importance is then discussing and researching before you move forward- together.) We talked about what would happen if one of us, or both of us, lost our jobs. We talked about what we would do if faced with having to move. We talked about things that make people very uncomfortable, like what we would expect if one of us dies (not that we’re planning on that happening for a long time, but thats the point of these conversations). Knowing about our inferility, we talked about what was comfortable for us in terms of how much money we’d spend on treatments, how many times we’d try before taking a break or giving up. We talked about adoption, we talked about IVF. We discussed how many children we wanted and what kind of parents we wanted to be (hence why we knew before looking them up).
Adoption forces people in to this line of thinking. Many parents don’t ever consider what type of parent they will be- they deal with parenting as it comes. And thats fine for them, but adoption and the homestudy process forces you to define it before the baby is even in your arms. And thats kind of a big reason why I think adoption doesn’t scare me (at least this part of adoption… a lot of other things scare me, like a BM backing out or the crazy small details like not having the proper smoke alarm to bedroom ratio for the homestudy) and its also why RB and I were never nervous during our wedding. We have a plan, and its not just for the here and now.
I don’t want to pat ourselves on the back here, little one. There are going to be plenty of challenges we never dreamed we’d face that we’ll be totally unprepared for, simply because you can’t plan everything in life. Much like the John Lennon quote, Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans, life is unpredictable. But that doesn’t mean we show up unprepared.
I feel like now more than ever, we’re so ready for you. We are ready to be parents- and while I’ve thought before that we were ready, hindsight is 20/20. While we would have been ecstatic and learned what to do along the way and still would have been great parents if it happened in the past three years we’ve been trying, now is the prefect time. We’ve read the books. We’ve surrounded ourselves with loving positive people, and we’ve purged the negative people in our lives. We are in a circle of nurturing caring friends and family that will accept you with open arms and hearts. We are making more money than we ever have in our careers, enough that I could stay home with you or work from home. We own our own house and are on the road to trying to get a bigger house, but the one we’re in now is fine for a baby. We are more responsible than ever. We are so madly in love with each other, and we support each other through everything.
We are ready.
Now its just about waiting to see if all the other cogs are in place to make this happen. But I know one thing for certain, we will always try our hardest and put our best effort in to raising you, from the day your born until the day we die.
And official parenting style definitions aside, we’ll be amazing parents to you little one.
This I know.