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Raising a child can be a wonderful opportunity to guide another human being's development into a happy, stable and successful person. From another perspective, it's a full-time job that lasts for eighteen years or more, with no days off, no salary and no employee handbook. When you think about it, both of these points of view are equally valid.

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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.

Get help 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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is good parenting?

Aside from selecting baby names, being a parent is a job individuals are never fully prepared for. It comes with no manuals but deals with consistency and raising a child against all the odds. Even though this part of adulthood is challenging, it is also one of the most rewarding. However, different people approach this role with different opinions. 

According to Wikipedia, Parenting is a process that is promoting and supporting the emotional, social, physical, and intellectual development of a child. In the words of Laurence Steinberg, a professor of psychology, ‘good parenting is a way of fostering empathy, honesty, self-reliance, self-control, kindness, cooperation, and cheerfulness.’ 

It would be best if you understand that no parent is perfect, and no child is either. However, this imperfection doesn’t make successful parenting unachievable. Successful parenting is not solely about perfection; it is all about good parenting and putting forward the best interests of your child in everything you do. To improve on your parenting skills, you may consider;

  • Being a good role model- to achieve this, simple strategies is all you need. A good parent does not tell the child what to do alone or cut down the screen time only; they show them too. 
  • Being a haven for them- although you may decide to employ firm parenting methods, it is important to make it positive too. Let your child know how you relate with them, and that in your action, you’d always be there for him/her. Support them when they need you. Also, avoid making promises that you’re not sure of keeping, or saying things that could have adverse effects on child development. 
  • Talking with them- notice the word ‘with,’ not ‘to.’ Of course, there is a place of talking to your child but talking with them means communication. Communicating is active listening. When you talk with them, it helps integrate their brain function. Before long, you realize that they’re learning to trust you more. 
  • Remember your parenting goal(s) –not just selecting baby names. Like most parents, you want your child to take healthy meals, excel in school, make meaningful relationships with others, etc. But, how much time do you spend creating food recipes, helping them learn, or watching out for them? Do you spend more time getting through the day instead of being an active part of their life? Take a step back and revisit your parenting goal; it helps put things into perspective. 

What are the four types of parenting styles?

The available parenting styles are based on the works of Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist. Her pillar theory forms a basic relationship between parenting styles and a child’s behavior. This theory could guide parents to help improve their approach or change their approach entirely.

After an extensive study of parenting techniques about the home, Diana came up with;

Authoritarian Parenting –“because I said so” based parenting 

The style is a rigid dimension to child-rearing. Authoritarian parents do not employ external parenting resources, even for simple activities like potty training, baby names, and the likes; they expect their orders to be obeyed to the letter. These parents have a set of rules that they expect the child to follow without question. Sometimes, abusive parents are in this category; however, Diana did not believe authoritarian parents to be abusive. On the other hand, she reveals their lack of responsiveness, lack of attention to the child's needs, and the act of withholding love and affection. 

Permissive Parenting – too soft 

Parents in this category are on the opposite side of the spectrum when compared to authoritarian parents. They are not strict at all; rather, they are very responsive. The term “spoilt” might suffice here because the permissive parent enforces no rules or punishment. They don’t portray themselves as a figure of authority since they employ a friendship form of relationship. For this category of parents, warm and nurturing is the parent’s guide. 

Authoritative Parenting – considered to be just right 

This category combines expectations with warmth. These kinds of parents have high demandingness and high responsiveness. They provide reasons and explanations for actions so that the child has a sense of awareness. Also, they are open to providing guidance and reasoning as well as open conversations. Often, communication in this style of parenting is bi-directional, making it a sort of “democratic parenting style.” Based on Baumrind’s study, children in this category tend to be more independent, active, happy, and content, develop healthy self-esteem, have better interaction with peers, etc. 

Uninvolved Parenting – Neglectful 

These individuals are indifferent about their children’s needs, thus making them inactive or uninvolved. Possibly, they didn’t even pick baby names. There are perspectives about their parenting method as a result of mental challenges resulting from neglect when they were younger. They exhibit characteristics like;

  • Impulsiveness
  • Mental challenges 
  • Addiction challenges 
  • Inability to self-regulate emotions 

Some of these features could be seen in parents’ parents and show it to be inherited. 

What is poor parenting?

At this age, “poor parenting” could mean anything- from physical abuse to mental abuse and others. The term itself is broad; it goes beyond your inability to pick the right baby names or make healthy meals. It is mostly several attributes culminating into a series of actions on the parent's part that invariably causes harm.

Here are some signs of bad parenting;

  • Reprimanding a child for speaking the truth 
  • Showing no support when they need it the most
  • No display of affection 
  • Comparing them to someone else 
  • Showing no respect for their feelings 
  • Setting poor models. 
  • Not offering them a choice 
  • Over-pampering 
  • Physical intimidation etc. 

What is safe parenting?

Kids begin to develop their senses as soon as their born. They usually take more of the parents’ expression because that’s who they see often. Safe parenting is essentially giving them a good start to life from when you select baby names. This includes;

  • Prioritizing your child 
  • Teach them how to safely cross the street
  • Help them trust their instinct so that they learn to stand up for themselves
  • Help them stay safe by using basic equipment like helmets for cycling etc. 
  • Listen more than you talk
  • When visiting people, even parents’ parents, teach them to be vigilant.

What makes a mom a good mom?

The closest person to a baby toddler is considered to be the mother. Apart from the pregnancy baby bond, the connection is quite natural. It’s only fair for a mom to wonder if they’re doing great at their job. Many mothers venture into the world of motherhood with the plans of being a good mother. Regardless of her appearance, a good mom has the following qualities and more; 

  • Encourages and accepts her kids
  • She’s a good daughter too 
  • Sets reasonable expectations of her kids
  • She is a good model for the kids 
  • Shows no favoritism 
  • Respect, supports, and loves
  • A good mom forgives

What are the signs of bad parenting?

No parent is perfect, but the way a child responds to certain issues could impact parenting. A child tends to pick up attitude, goals, and perspective based on what they’ve learned from their parents. This is a reflection of what parents’ parents passed on and ultimately, what parents are passing on. So, if you aren’t doing so great in this parenting business, these are some of the signs; 

  • Withholding support and affection –poor emotional health parenting 
  • A lot of advice and less encouragement 
  • Spanking, in the name of discipline – specialists report that physical abuse has negative outcomes. 
  • Inconsistency – which could negatively impact self-esteem development 
  • Unrealistic expectations 
  • Scaring tactics 

How does bad parenting affect a child?

Studies show the adverse impact bad parenting could have on the child in terms of mental health, behavioral patterns, and psychology;

Antisocial behaviors 

A 2012 study shows that 94% of parents spank their kids. An undeniable effect of bad parenting is the psychological effect on the child, especially with regards to physical and emotional abuse. The severity could lead to substance abuse, mental health challenges, criminal activities, and other vices. 

Low self-worth 

By nature, children seek to please their parents. However, when they are talked down or made to feel as though they’re not good enough or living up to expectations, it ultimately makes the child feel neglected, unloved, and dampen their self-esteem. Ryan Hong of National University explains that children tend to fear making mistakes when the parents expect perfection. Mental related challenges like low self-esteem could give rise to depression. Many studies show that parents with a negative approach to child-rearing have kids susceptible to depression. 

Possible academic challenges 

When kids receive little or no attention from parents, they neglect the educational needs of the child. This could contribute to their inattentiveness in class. 

Possibility of parenting challenges 

A child that grew up with bad parenting techniques will adapt to what they learned. Except for an intentional decision to employ different means or with the aid of professional help, they will most likely teach what they learned. 

What happens when you scold your child?

Scolding is believed to be one of the traditional approaches to discipline. Since there is no fixed guide for parents, some turn to what they have seen or used to. If parents’ parents used such techniques on them, it’s often hard to experience a different outcome. Since scolding tends to focus on the child rather than the attitude you intend to correct, they could experience feelings of anxiety and stress. Although scolding is considered a positive punishment, it hardly touches the root cause of the issue. 

What is the hardest age to parent?

According to a recent study by OnePoll as sponsored by Mixbook, it was shown that the age eight is probably the most challenging to parent. 2000 people took the survey, and most of them agreed that age eight was a tough one. They want to pick baby names if you’re expecting, more screen time, little or no chores. Regardless of age, they are still young, and a hug could make parenting more pleasurable for both parties.  

What is the best parenting style psychology?

According to Diana Baumrind’s theory shows four kinds of parenting styles. Of all, authoritative style is considered the best. Parents set firm limits for their children. Some claims put psychologists and psychiatrists in favor of this style. However, the same parents network has been under study for several years. However, inconsistencies and exceptions were recorded in some areas. For example, a study by Chao RK showed that Asian-American students performed better with authoritarian parents and peer support. However, another report in Spain showed that indulgent and authoritarian parenting styles gave good outcomes. 

Does gentle parenting work?

The debate on which parenting styles works the best is never-ending because people will continually have different perspectives. As a result there is an approach known as gentle Parenting- a modern approach. Gentle parenting is considered a peaceful and positive technique characterized by empathy, respect, boundaries, and understanding. Sometimes, the concept of “attachment parenting’ is used interchangeably with gentle parenting. 

Sarah Ockwell-Smith, an advocate of gentle parenting, says that “approaching situations with empathy is trying to understand the reasons behind the behavior.” “Hence, you can work together to effect a positive change and accept what cannot be changed.” She says, “it works’ while stretching that every psychological research ever did always have the authoritative parenting style coming out on top. 

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