Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
What is parenting?
Parenting is the act of raising and caring for children. Parents can be biological, but they can also be adoptive. A child may have foster parents, stepparents, or grandparents that are their legal guardians. If you are in any of these roles or similar roles, you are a parent. When you are a parent, it is important that you take care of your child emotionally as well as physically. Your child or children should always come first. Parenting isn't easy, but it can be the most rewarding job in the entire world.
What are some different parenting styles?
There are four general parenting styles that are often spoken about: Permissive, Authoritative, Uninvolved, and Disciplinarian. Disciplinarian parenting is noted as a strict and inflexible type of parenting that is heavy on rules that aren't generally explained to the child. Permissive parenting, also known as indulgent parenting, includes few rules. People with a permissive parenting style are generally very nurturing and compassionate, but they don't offer much in terms of tangible guidance. Like people with a permissive parenting style, uninvolved parents set a few rules, but very much unlike permissive parents, uninvolved parents don't offer much in terms of nurture. They are uninvolved, and not just in terms of rules or regulations. Uninvolved parents don't provide a whole lot of emotional support, and are disengaged. Authoritative parents, unlike disciplinarian parents, set rules, but explain the reasons for the rules that are in place and are very nurturing. Individuals or couples who practice this parenting style have a balanced approach to parenting and communicate effectively with their children.
What is positive parenting?
Another thing that's often talked about when we refer to parenting styles is positive parenting. Positive parenting is a parenting style that is non-violent, kind, consistent, and nurturing. It is a parenting style that considers childhood development or your child's current stage of development, and it emphasizes boundaries while also focusing on being affirming toward what your child feels and has to say.
Parenting and family structures
Your family may look different than that of your friends, partners, or anyone else around you. That is because there are so many different kinds of families. There are single-parent families, traditional families, grandparent families, stepfamilies, and more. All family structures are valid. If you are raising kids with your spouse and they had an upbringing where a different parenting style was favored, you may have different ideas about how to parent your children. This is something that is important to talk through with your significant other. Be open-minded and make sure that you are both able to express your thoughts. See if there is a way that you can meet in the middle, and if you feel that something isn't right, don't be afraid to speak up. You can advocate for yourself and your children.
Tips for parents during social distancing
Social distancing has provided an additional challenge for parents. Your children might be confused at this time, depending on their age. This is a stressful time for everyone, and it is impacting all of our mental health. Here are some tips to help you during this time:
- Explain the coronavirus and the need for social distancing in child-friendly language. Emphasize the importance of social distancing without using scare tactics.
- Spend quality time with your child even if you are working from home.
- Do not plan play dates or make compromises. As tempting as it is, it's most important to keep people safe until social distancing regulations are lifted. If possible, see if your kids can talk to their friends on the phone or FaceTime them if it is age-appropriate.
- Go outside. It's important to get fresh air and will help both you and your children. Social distancing does not mean that you cannot take walks with people within your household. You simply must maintain the appropriate distance from others.
- Be there for your children emotionally. No matter how young your children are, remember that kids are often very perceptive. They are likely attuned to the fact that the world around them is different, and they may experience mental health effects as a result. Some kids will understand the coronavirus or social distancing better than others. The best thing to do is to be there for your child in whatever way they need and remember that you know your child better than anyone else.
What should I do if I need help with parenting?
If you and your spouse need help with parenting, it is important to see a couple's counselor. Similarly, if you are a single parent, you can see an individual counselor. Many families also benefit from family counseling or therapy. Seeking help from a mental health provider does not mean that your parenting style is inadequate or that your family life is poor. It can improve your family life, even if it started out in a good place, and can increase communication and understanding within the family. Perhaps, it will even validate something that you feel. No matter what you're seeking help for, a licensed professional will likely be able to help.
ReGain.us is an excellent place to seek the help of mental health providers. Whether you decide to see a counselor individually or with your significant other, know that online therapy is an affordable option with an abundance of benefits. Especially during this time of social distancing, family life can be hard and stressful. The best thing about online therapy is that you can receive it from the privacy of your own home. Don't be afraid to reach out for help. Again, it doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with you or your family, and it will only make you stronger.