Perhaps you love reality TV, maybe you don’t. Either way, the TV show The Parent Test (available to stream on Hulu), asks an important question: “Which parenting styles are the most effective?” Without ruining the show for you (in case you decide to watch it), the parents that made it to the semifinals and the final, no matter what they called their parenting style, all showed a lot of love and consideration for their children, had consistent rules, limits, and consequences for their kids, and this helped the children to know where they stood. This in turn kept their kids, in the long run, more content and safe.
This parenting style is called by psychologists an authoritative style. The idea of enforcing authority as something positive might be surprising to some parents as in today’s society there is a greater emphasis on hearing and reflecting your child’s feelings, considering your child’s individuality, etc. The confusion comes from not knowing the difference between authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive parenting. One study explains the difference: “Parents with an authoritative style have control along with intimacy and responsiveness to their children; authoritarian style parents usually have cold interactions with and much control over their children; permissive parents have little expectations of their children and do not have any control and accountability towards them.” This research also indicates that the authoritative style best promotes children’s self-esteem.
As you keep learning new things as a parent, reflecting on whether your parenting style could use a tune-up can present a challenge while you implement changes, but it can be ultimately beneficial and rewarding.