“The proclamation admonishes respect for the divine and individual nature of children as parents love, teach and guide them with their emphasis on teaching and preparing children rather than unrighteously controlling their wills.”
~Craig H. Hart, Lloyd D. Newell, and Julie H. Haupt, “Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives,” p. 105
Congratulations! You’re parents! Or, you will be parents someday. At the very least, you are a child of some parents, so whether or not children are in your foreseeable future, parenting has had an effect on you. Today I’m going to outline the three main types of parenting and some of the best tips and ways to raise your children in love and righteousness.
I think I have mentioned this before, but just to reiterate, I am the oldest of eight children. My parents were 18 and 20 when I was born and my dad was the youngest in a family of large age gaps (10 years respectively), so he was practically an only child. Being the oldest, I was kind of like their “guinea pig” when it came to the ups and downs of being a parent. My dad came from a rather difficult home life where his father wasn’t involved and my mom came from a home where her parents and siblings were far from close to one another. In an effort to be better than their parents, they worked hard. They were determined to be the perfect parents. However, while their hearts were in the right place, their parenting practices weren’t always what one would consider the best way. I’ll talk more about this, but first I want to go through the three types of parenting, so that we can see why it is so hard to know how to be a good parent and what to do.
- The Coercive Parenting Style.
This is often called the “authoritarian” style of parenting. Distinguishing features of this type are “parents who deride, demean, or diminish children and teens by continually putting them in their place, putting them down, mocking them, or holding power over them via punitive or psychologically controlling means” (, “Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives,” p. 105). Frequent “spanking, yelling criticizing, and forcing” (p. 105) are often seen in homes where coercive parenting rules.
Now, this all sounds harsh. But, to some extent, most parents use at least some coercion, and you have probably seen this in the extreme sometime in your life. Why do we do it then? Well, because it is often the natural response. When your child is hitting their sister, or screaming in the store for candy, or throwing a tantrum in your bathroom because they refuse to get in or out of the tub, our initial reaction is to stop them. We can generally get a quick response by yelling or threatening, and so we do it. The same is true with teenagers who talk back, disobey, or do things that go against everything that you’ve taught them. It’s upsetting, so we respond accordingly.
- The Permissive Parenting Style.
This parenting is on the other end of the spectrum in comparison to coercion. In “Successful Marriages and Families,” it is said that “Permissive parenting is categorized by parents who overindulge children or neglect the, by leaving them to their own devices” (p. 107). When I was growing up we had neighbors who had two little boys. They were five and three years old at the time they moved in and they would come to our house constantly. They would show up at 7 am, knock until someone answered, invite themselves in, and stay until my parents sent or walked them home. Their parents didn’t question where their two young children were, didn’t check on them, or even ask if it was okay if their children came over. It got to the point where my parents had to go have a conversation with them.
This example of permissive parenting is just one of the many times I have seen this type of parenting. But, it doesn’t just have to mean neglect. It can also be the opposite and be spoiling, over-indulging, and allowing children to make all their own decisions from a young age (when they don’t necessarily have the right boundaries or knowledge to do so).
- The Authoritative Parenting Style.
This is called the “optimal parenting style” (“Successful Marriages and Families,” p. 108). This type of parenting balances the two extremes. Hart, Newell and Haupt write in Chapter 10 of “Successful Marriages and Families” that “Authoritative parenting fosters a positive emotional connection with children, provides for regulation that places fair and consistent limits on child behavior and allows for reasonable child autonomy in in decision making” (p. 108). It’s no wonder that this is the ideal! While no parent can be perfect, like my parents tried to be, it is good to have clear principles that we can follow to have the most likely success.
But what do these principles look like you might ask? Well, I have (drumroll please) a list for you! Once again, this list comes from Chapter 10 of “Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives” and goes as followed:
“In order to promote optimal development and to rear children in love and righteousness, the following are crucial elements for each child, although specific implementations and approaches may be individualized based upon the needs and personality of each child:
- Love, warmth, and support
- Clear and reasonable expectations for competent behavior
- Limits and boundaries with some room for negotiation and compromise
- Reasoning and developmentally appropriate consequences and punishments for breaching established limits
- Opportunities to perform competently and make choices
- Absence of coercive, hostile forms of discipline, such as harsh physical punishment, love withdrawal, shaming, and inflicting guilt
- Models of appropriate behavior consistent with self-control, positive values, and positive attitudes” (p. 105).
My parents, whom I love and adore, had trouble at times from veering from one end of the spectrum (coercive parenting) to the other (permissive parenting) at times when it came to raising some of my siblings and I. Like I said, and was mentioned, it is so much easier said than done to find that balance while still disciplining with love and allowing your children to make their own choices and mistakes. On top of it all, every child is different! So, if you think you’ve mastered these skills with child number 1 or 2, remember child number 3 could always throw you a curveball! I am (mostly) kidding, but it is just to say, take heart! Try your best, love your children, be patient, and know that you can always try again the next day!