Parenting styles are often an unconscious reflection of the parenting we received when we were kids. While many expectant parents pour over child development books on a quest for parenting perfection, most fall back on old habits in the heat of the moment. Before you get too judgmental of someone else, beware: Criticizing someone’s parenting can be insulting and may damage your relationship with them. Valuing and respecting various parenting styles can help keep the peace and force you to put yourself in someone else's shoes.
Experts have identified four main parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and hands-off. However, many people use a combination of these styles. Authoritative parents set boundaries for their kids but consider the child’s perspective when making parenting decisions. Authoritarian parents expect a lot from their children and consider obedience paramount. Permissive parents work hard to be friends with their children and tend to be more lenient. Hands-off parents allow their children to make their own choices and learn from their mistakes with very little intervention.
The consistent limits and structure established with an authoritative parenting style are thought to be most beneficial for most kids, according to educational nonprofit group GreatSchools. Authoritative parents work hard to use a caring tone and develop a trusting relationship with their children. These parents are willing to sacrifice their own time and needs for their kids, if necessary. They set expectations for their kids and work with them to see that these expectations are met. However, all kids are unique, and the parenting strategies that work for one may not work for another.
Though it might be hard to hold your tongue, unless someone is in danger, it's best to keep your opinions about others’ parenting styles to yourself. Chances are that parent you're silently judging thinks she is doing what's best for her kids, even if you don’t agree. Cultural differences are often responsible for differences in parenting styles, and people can become understandably touchy when their culture is questioned.
Harmony at Home
Parenting styles can vary between spouses, too. To tackle the issue, discuss and agree upon expectations when the kids aren't around, since arguing in front of your kids can open another can of worms. If you can’t agree, seek professional help for finding common ground. Crack open your parenting books, too. The more informed you are about parenting techniques and the ways children respond to them at different stages of development, the easier it will be to make effective, harmonious parenting decisions.