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When Parenting Like Your Parents is the Wrong Choice

“Do it because I said so.”

“If you are going to cry, I will give you a reason to cry.”

“Don’t come to me looking for pity if you hurt yourself. I told you not to do it.”

Did you hear these phrases growing up? How did they make you feel?

If you didn’t hear these phrases, it is still likely that your parents heard these phrases because they were frequently used on Boomers and generations before that.

But you may have heard phrases such as these:

“You will never amount to anything.”

“Do you do this on purpose to irritate me, or are you just dumb?”

“You never do anything right.”

“I don’t know why I ever had you. You just make my life miserable.”

There are many other phrases that parents have been known to say. They are said out of anger and frustration, but also out of a sense that you are making them look like bad parents and adults.

There are different types of parenting styles/discipline that have evolved over the generations. The two primary ones are the authoritative and the authoritarian (who use many of the phrases listed above). There are also two other types called the permissive or indulgent, and uninvolved.

Three of these styles increase the risk of children growing up with physical and mental health problems. If there are balancing factors in their lives to help them see themselves as valued members of their communities your children may do okay. But if you are using one of the three styles listed, because that was how you were raised, your child is at a greater risk of a poor outcome than if he had been raised with the 4th style.

Let’s look at each style:

AUTHORITARIAN – This parenting style/discipline is most like the military. This parent is seen as demanding but not responsive to the needs of his child. He will use many if not all the above phrases when interacting with his child. He believes in punishment but not compliments. He is not open to discussion. He will not explain his rules or often let the child know there is a rule until it is broken. Then the child is punished and frequently put down at the same time. He has high expectations but does not believe in the “more than one way” to achieve a goal method. It is do it his way or expect his wrath. He feels that fear is the same as respect.

PERMISSIVE/INDULGENT – This parenting style/discipline is low level discipline and high-level nurture. For some of these parents, it is a style that they chose because they felt their parents were too harsh on them. For others, it is a belief by the parents that children need to be able to explore the world and learn by natural consequences.  Many are open to discussion with their children with some suggestions, but no direct rules. This can lead to children who grow up not knowing boundaries and taking many risks without belief that there should be consequences. Or some children grow up to be emotionally secure, independent, and able to learn and accept defeat.

UNINVOLVED – These parents have also been called neglectful parents because they rarely consider the needs of their child. There is no nurturing with only the basic needs for a home, food, and clothing being provided. When you look deeper at these parents, you will find that some were raised this way and others are overwhelmed by their day-to-day life. This can lead to their child being anxious, withdrawn, afraid to trust anyone, and likely to get into trouble in adolescence.

AUTHORITATIVE – This parenting style may sound similar to authoritarian, but it is vastly different. Parents using this style of parenting/discipline which is high in both expectations and nurturing. These parents have rules which they make sure that their child understands as well as the discipline which will be used if the rule is broken. They communicate frequently with their child, discussing concerns, expectations, and provide nurturing support over efforts, not just outcomes. These children are at the lowest risk for mental health disorders or misbehavior in adolescence.

As you read over these descriptions check any behavior or trait that you feel describes your style or your parents’ style. While the permissive/indulgent style is not a problem for some children, it leads to a lack of ability to self-regulate emotions and behaviors in many children. They can grow up to expect to always get off since their parents will bail them out.

The authoritarian and uninvolved parenting styles have the highest rates of poor adult outcomes from children raised these ways. Many will underachieve due to a lack of belief in their own abilities. Others will become aggressive toward others, feeling that that is the only way to stay safe.

Only the authoritative parenting style/discipline has shown the best long-term outcomes for children. This actually has been shown in research going back to the late 1600’s (John Locke) and forward looking at how interacting with children, rather than physical punishment led to better adult outcomes. The authoritarian method was more related to wanting to save the child’s soul and doing what the Bible said regarding using the rod.

Research regarding children in the 1900’s and forward has shown that authoritarian style, especially including physical punishment, leads to more mental health problems, including the use of aggressiveness by the children when they feel that they have been wronged. They find it difficult to use logic to work through problems, due to the model they experienced as a child.

To learn more about effective discipline, which is the authoritative style, check out these resources:

(These are affiliate links. Commissions from sales help fund this site)

Positive Discipline Parenting Tools

1-2-3 Magic for Christian Parents

If you are interested in an in-depth look at 3 factors of children and adolescents that can create positive or negative futures, check out my program, Never Assume: Know Children Before Labeling Them.

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