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…and so what?

If we were to ask any of our grandmothers what their parenting style was, they would laugh, ask us what we are talking about, and offer us a plate of food. Grandmothers often have a way of warming our hearts while filling our bellies, don’t they?

If we were to ask our mothers the same, they may say they don’t have a parenting approach, but that they learned from their own upbringing what things they wanted to continue to do, and which they wanted to leave behind. In other words, they simply did their best.

What about our generation?

I’m willing to bet some of you have a specific label for your parenting tactics. There are so many classifications now, with new ones being coined all the time.

I have some friends who raise their children free-range. Some, self-admittedly are helicopter parents. Some are attachment parents. Some are even tiger moms.

No matter the designation of mom you are according to these newfangled terms, you will have your own level of responsiveness and demandingness, and this is what seems to matter most.

Clinical and developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind studied the effects of responsiveness and demandingness on children, and she determined that there were three main styles of parenting that produce certain qualities in children.

Baumrind determined à-la-Goldilocks that one approach was too hard or stern, another too lenient or lax, and the third,  “just right”.

Image from The Princess and the Pea Blog by Sarah Jane at Sarah Jane Studios

Two other researchers Maccoby and Martin put in their two cents, determining that there was a fourth category. You may have heard of these four parenting approaches before:

  1. Permissive or Indulgent
  2. Neglectful or Uninvolved
  3. Authoritarian or Dictator
  4. Authoritative or Democratic

So which parenting approach was “just right”?

The parenting approach that most often produces children who are emotionally healthy, well-behaved, high-achieving, self-reliant, independent, social, and productive members of society is that with the most responsiveness and the most demandingness — Authoritative/Democratic.

These parents have high expectations and firm rules and boundaries, at the same time that they have high levels of affection, care, and acceptance.

They are emotion coaches to their children.

They engage with their kids and talk through differences of opinion, giving the child a voice while maintaining the parental authority.

They allow independence within healthy parameters, and guide their children through solving problems.

Image from

Where does your parenting fall in this matrix?

And, is that where you want to be?

Free-range, attachment, tiger, dolphin, whatever your parenting tactics may be, I believe there is room for you to adjust your responsiveness and demandingness towards an authoritarian/democratic style and remain true to your values.

Use this information as your guide to transform how you approach parenting and watch as your child’s behavior follows suit.

If you have any questions or are not where you’d like to be, send me a message!

Let’s talk about it and figure out how to help you be the best parent you can be.

Helpful resources:

Vanderbilt University Developmental Psychology Blog

Christina Furnival

Christina is a mom to two wild and wonderful kiddos, a licensed psychotherapist (LPCC), the founder of her website and therapeutic motherhood blog Real Life Mama, and a children's book author of a social/emotional wellbeing series, Capable Kiddos! She and her Scottish husband are raising their family in San Diego, where they love to hike, play soccer, cook, walk around the lake, and go to the beach.

3 thoughts on “What’s Your Parenting Style?”

  1. Great article and very informative! I would like to think my parenting approach is “just right.” but seeing as my little is too young to reason with, I might be permissive. If he’s not getting hurt or into something dangerous I tend to let things slide.

    1. Hi Rikki! Haha I love your honesty. When kids are so little it IS hard to tell what our real parenting style is like! Keep reflecting as your child grows and shift as needed! 🙂

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