Thursday, August 18, 2011

News article

I came across this in thestaronline's ParenThots section today. The link to the article is here. Or I've copied it below.

Excuse me, are you a Tiger Mum?
17 August 2011



Amy Chua’s controversial memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother details her strict parenting style which includes no sleepovers, play dates or TV. In addition, the American author and Yale Law School professor talks about the virtues of drilled academic learning and intensive daily practice on the piano and violin. With a stroke of her razorsharp pen, the mother of two teenage girls has set most well-intentioned parents wondering: Is this the right parenting style? Does it really work?

Even though it feels like we respond to our teens on a case-by-case basis, our decisions have a lot to do with our parenting styles, which are shaped by the way in which we combine our warmth and affection for our teens with structure and discipline.

Years of research have categorised four different parenting styles, each of which contributes to various characteristics in teens. If you are not a self-confessed Tiger Mum, see if you can identify with any of the following styles:

Authoritarian parenting

In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow the strict rules established by the parents. Failure to comply 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 US clinical and developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind, these parents “are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation”.

Authoritarian parenting generally breeds obedient and proficient children. They, however, rank lower in happiness, social competence and selfesteem.

Authoritative parenting

Like their authoritarian counterparts, the authoritative parents establish rules and guidelines that they expect their children to follow. However, this style is much more democratic. These parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions.

When children fail to meet their expectations, they 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, self-regulated and co-operative”. An authoritative parenting style tends to result in children who are happy, capable and successful, according to US psychologist Eleanor Maccoby.

Permissive parenting

Sometimes referred to as indulgent parents, they have very few demands to make of their children. These parents rarely discipline their progeny 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 non-traditional and lenient, do not require mature behaviour, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation”.

Permissive parents are generally nurturing and communicative with their children, often taking on the status of a friend more than that of a parent. The children will probably rank low in happiness and self-regulation. And they are more likely to experience problems with authority and perform poorly in school.

Uninvolved parenting

This is characterised by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication. While these parents fulfil the child’s basic needs, they are generally detached from their child’s life. In extreme cases, these parents may even reject or neglect their children’s needs.

Uninvolved parenting ranks lowest across all life domains. Their children may lack self-control and have low self-esteem, and are less competent than their peers.

How do you know your parenting style? It can be helpful to consider these questions:

- How clear are you about boundaries and the rules of the house?
- What do you do when the rules are broken?
- How comfortable are you in hearing your teen’s opinions and suggestions, and alternatives?
- How often do you find yourself explaining your reasoning?
- Do you know who your kids’ friends are? Their parents?
- How comfortable are you with compromise?
- Do you have to nag your teen to get things done?
- How often do you feel like your teen is taking advantage of your good nature?

If you are interested in finding out your parenting style, there are a number of websites that offer free quizzes. The best way to use this kind of information is not to criticise yourself, but identify your strengths and weaknesses. Having more knowledge on how you parent can help you to grow in the areas that you deem important.

Below are a few recommended sites for parenting quizzes:

While you discover which style you use, we will discuss the most suitable style and the role change necessary for parenting teens and tweens in a fortnight. Till then, happy parenting.

Charis Patrick is a trainer and family life educator who is married with four children.

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