Strong parents are neither permissive nor authoritarian.
Authoritarian parents impose absolute standards of conduct, stress obedience, and are willing to use physical punishment to gain compliance. Their children are often irritable, dependent, and submissive and have a limited sense of responsibility and lower levels of academic achievement. Although these children receive a lot of attention, it is often of the negative kind, which reinforces feelings of inadequacy.
Permissive parents are those who provide their children with few controls or demands and display moderate levels of warmth. Children of permissive parents are usually impulsive, aggressive, self-centered, and low in achievement and independence. This is because they are left alone a lot and begin to assume that they are not much cared about.
Many children rise above the standards proscribed by permissive or authoritarian parents, but the majority develop emotional problems that follow them into adult life. Authoritarian parents may secure obedience from their children, but at the price of fear. Children of permissive parents do not learn teamwork. As adults these children run the risk of having imbalance in their marriages and their work lives.
The ideal, however, is to be an authoritative parent who combines warmth with moderate levels of control. Authoritative parents are rational, receptive, and flexible. They encourage independence in their children, but give them only as much responsibility as they can handle. Instead of demanding blind obedience, they set clear rules and are willing to explain those rules to their children. Children of authoritative parents are independent, assertive, self-confident, and socially responsible and tend to do well academically.
The authoritative parent is a strong leader. The child knows where he or she stands with the parent and believes that he or she is loved. Because the parent is a leader and not an authoritarian, the child admires the mother or father and looks to her or him for guidance instead of obeying out of fear. Because authoritative parents allow the child to try things out for him- or herself, under their supervision, the child develops a sense of mastery of the environment, which leads to positive self-esteem. Children raised in this type of environment develop a strong sense of self. They are aware of their strengths and their weaknesses and are prepared to work on both.
If you feel like you’re struggling as a parent, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, seeking professional help can ensure a healthy, happy family life. If you like in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.
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