What Kind of Parent Are You (Going to Be)

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     Raising children is a job all of its own. Eric comes home from a hard days work at the office and there is a message on his answering machine saying that little Billy had been suspended from school today for getting into a fistfight. Eric is upset and sent Billy to his room and tells him that he is grounded for a week. Eric didn’t want to come home to this chaos; he was exhausted from working. He just wanted to relax. After Eric cools off, he tells Billy that he better not do it again and that he could be ungrounded if he cleans up his room. What kind of parenting did Eric just exercise? He essentially didn’t punish Billy at all. What would have your dad done if you beat some kid up at school and got suspended?
     All parents react in different ways to things that their children do. Dr. Diana Baumrind, a leading parenting sociologist, has classified the way that parents raise their children into four different parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and uninvolved (Darling 2). Authoritarian parents want control over their children’s lives both physically and psychologically. Authoritative parents physically control their children, but don’t need to brainwash them to do it. Permissive parents allow their children to make their own choices by allowing them to do what they wish. Uninvolved parents don’t care about their children and usually neglect them. Only a small percentage of people are authoritarian or uninvolved parents. The authoritative and permissive parenting styles are the most widely used ones today (Darling 3).
     Authoritative parents are both demanding and responsive to their children’s actions. They monitor and set clear standards on how a child is to act and what will happen if they deviate from this. In the example about little Billy getting suspended from school, an authoritative parent would have grounded him and perhaps put him in time-out. He would stick to Billy’s punishment and make him think about what he did. In contrast, permissive parents are more responsive than they are demanding of their children’s actions. They are nontraditional and lenient towards them. They try to avoid confrontation with their children by allowing them to be free minded and do whatever they wish. The attitude of this type of parenting is not a very wise one to have. Permissive parents find that their children: get into arguments with teachers, tell someone “no” when they are told to do something, and yell and argue when they don’t get what they want.

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In contrast, with the authoritative style of parenting, children are taught to respect everyone with authority by setting limits to tell them what they can and cannot do. The attitude of “no, because I don’t want to” doesn’t arise in children with this style of parenting because the children are punished if they act that way.
      Permissive parents tend not actually “punish” their children; they usually just keep warning them to quit doing something or say something like “you better not do that again.” The children take advantage of this situation by thinking “she’s not going to do anything to me if I do this.” Children from these families go out and vandalize mailboxes, come home at 11 o’clock instead of 8 o’clock, and eat half a box of cookies. They are not taught limits and don’t think about the consequences of their actions because they have been taught that there are none.
     Children of authoritative parents are punished, sometimes severely. Authoritative parents need to instill a “fear” into their children so that when they deviate they know that there are going to be consequences. These children still vandalize mailboxes, come home at 11 o’clock instead of 8 o’clock, and eat half a box of cookies—but only once or twice. The reason that they quit doing these things is because their parents set limits. Their children can have 2 cookies only after they eat their dinner. If they are more than 15 minutes late they are grounded for a week. If they destroy a mailbox they are to get spanked, are to pay for a new mailbox with their own money, and are grounded for a month. The punishment usually reflects the severity of what the child has done. Children learn to determine what is right and wrong and that if they choose to do something they know is wrong, they know that they are going to be punished. When I broke our lamp (that was in a room that I shouldn’t have been in), I cringed with fear because I knew I was going to get my rear end spanked.
     Sometimes, especially in divorced families, two different types of parents are trying to control a household. I live in one such household. My dad is an authoritative parent and my step-mom is a permissive parent. Her sons run around our house doing whatever they want to do: talk on the phone until 10 o’clock at night, eat half a bag of chips a half an hour before dinner, and take my hair gel and don’t give it back for a week. Whenever they do these things, she threatens to ground them if they do it again, but the next day they are back going through my stuff or throwing the remote control across the room. This is because all she does is threaten them; she doesn’t actually punish them. My dad tells them what to do and they don’t do it and say, “I don’t have to, you’re not my dad.” They have no respect for anyone or anything. As they grow older, their attitudes worsen; one day they may find themselves in jail because they know no limits.
     Columbine High School, Heath High School, Parker Middle School, and Westside Middle School are all homes to recent school shootings. Why did these shootings occur? Their parents were permissive (Miller 3). They didn’t set standards for their children to follow. They allowed their children to watch violent television and to play violent video games. Their children weren’t taught how to deal with anger or rejection in part because their parents rejected them by not setting limits. Children need and want limits. Parents have to raise their children in a sound, loving environment. Parents have to remember their children are going to be adults one day and must function as part of a normal society. Only authoritative parents are capable of achieving this goal.

Works Cited

Darling, Nancy, PhD, MS. “Parenting Style and Its Correlates.” Clearinghouse on
     Elementary and Early Childhood Education. Mar. 1999. 8pp. 17 Oct. 2004.
     < http://www.athealth.com/Practitioner/ceduc/parentingstyles.html>

Miller, Betty. “Children Who Murder.” Overcoming Life Digest. May/Jun 1998. 12pp.
     17 Oct. 2004.



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