Molding Young Minds

Guinea Pigs

Sometimes parents feel as if their children are their own personal guinea pigs in terms of the fact that they never feel quite confident their parenting methods are correct. Parents may even wonder if they're causing their children irreparable harm. Here's the good news: psychologists believe that as long as a parent is true to his own nature, his parenting style will have no ill effects on his children.

Laidback or Uptight?

That means that if you are a laidback person, it will send a mixed message to your child if you try to be a strict behaviorist while someone who likes lots of structure in his life is going to come off false if he tries to be very permissive with his children. This type of falsity can produce a sense of insecurity in children.

It's easy to speak of strict or permissive, but there is yet another approach, known as the authoritative, balanced, or democratic style of parenting. In this type of parenting, there is a lot of give and take. Explanations are made for the type of behavior that parents expect in their children and there are follow-ups to see if the lessons take. Praise is given when good behavior is displayed and bad behavior receives no attention.

So it is known that parents must be true to themselves as they feel their way into the parental relationship with their children so as to foster good mental health in their offspring. On the other hand, that doesn't mean that your chosen style of parenting doesn't make a difference in the type of child you turn out. Let's take a look at the various styles and how they impact on our children.

Type of Parenting

The authoritarian parent likes a lot of structure. That's not to say he/she is abusive, but there are high standards and obedience is expected. These parents don't really want or require input from their children as they make parenting decisions. This type of parenting is very beneficial for a child with behavioral issues, since such a child thrives on structure and needs to feel that even if he is out of control, an authoritative figure is on hand as a steadying presence. There is the danger, though, that children of authoritarian parents will end up with a poor sense of self, and develop a need to consult with others on almost every issue.

Permissive parents try to foster creativity in their children by allowing them to flower without parental interference. This is a good method of parenting for an introverted child who needs to be drawn out of his shell. Children with aggressive natures need restrictions and the permissive style is not very effective for their needs. Often, the children of permissive parents seem immature, or have poor impulse control.

Authoritative parents lend an open ear to their children but are willing to set firm limits. This can be an ideal approach with children who are neither rebellious nor shy, but somewhere in the middle. This type of parenting has the potential to instill a can-do attitude and independent thought.

If you see yourself as using a variety of approaches, that may mean that you are taking your child's unique personality into account as you consider how to parent. That means your child is getting the best of all worlds.