Identifying and Evaluating Parenting Styles

Introduction

The topic of this paper is parenting styles. The paper will mainly focus on the four different parenting styles commonly used today: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and neglectful. The classification of these four parenting styles, base on the work done by Baumrind, mainly depends on the demandingness and responsiveness of parents. Demandingness refers to parents’ expectations and the rules they set for children. Responsiveness refers to the degree of warmth, sensitivity and acceptance of parents.

In this paper, three pairs of parent will be discussed and classified into Baumrind’s parenting styles base on their behaviors.

Project Objective

The main purpose of this project is to identify and evaluate different parenting styles with real-life examples.

According to Baumrind and other past research, parenting styles can have significant long-term impacts on children’s self-esteem, social skills and even school work. Therefore, they are is essential to study and distinguish.

Participants

The three parent-toddler pairs are labeled ‘Pair A’, ‘Pair B’ and ‘Pair C’ respectively.

Pair A consists of Father A, Mother A, and their three-year-old daughter Daughter A. Pair B consists of Father B, Mother B, their five-year-old daughter Daughter B1, and their two-year-old daughter Daughter B2. Pair C consists of Father C, Mother C and their children Son C and Daughter C, both at around the age of three.

Procedure

All my observations were made in the Walt Disney World Resort. There I paid close attention to the many parent-toddler pairs around me, especially those with typical parenting styles.

Since the classification of Baumrind’s parenting styles mainly bases on the parents’ demandingness and responsiveness, I need to assess their levels of support, warmth and also their levels of control. This requires observation of their behaviors, tone, facial expressions, and many other behavioral clues.

I also kept an eye on how the passersby reacted to the children. Their reactions can be taken into consideration when evaluating a child’s personality development, and when projecting his or her future success.

Results and Analysis

Pair A

Out of Baumrind’s four parenting styles, I would classify Pair A into the ‘permissive’ type. The characteristics of the permissive parenting style are high responsiveness and low demandingness. Permissive parents are usually warm and responsive, but at the same time too indulgent and lenient.

As described in the appendix, Father A was constantly trying to interact with Daughter A. When Daughter A became upset, her parents responded quickly and actively. In general, Parents A were very responsive and sensitive to their daughter’s emotional and other needs. They gave their daughter enough warmth and attention. However, even though they seemed aware that Daughter A’s behavior was wrong, in the end, they still chose to give in. Those behaviors are all very typical in permissive parenting. Therefore, parenting styles categorization is very helpful when describing the interaction between parents-toddler pair A.

In permissive parenting, there are usually enough interactions but too few boundaries.

Permissive parenting can cause many negative outcomes such as a lack of poor social skills and even egocentrism. Daughter A rarely responded to Father A’s reaching out; parents A also seemed to be accustomed to their daughter’s indifference. Permissive parenting may also lead to a lack of self-control, which already reflected on Daughter A’s behaviors when she was rejected. Under such parenting, Daughter A may face many social problems in the future.

Pair B

Parents-toddler pair B is more tricky to classify.

In terms of responsiveness, Parents B were not as involved or supportive with their children. There were few interactions between parents and the two daughters. While eating, the parents did not attempt to engage in any conversation with the children. Even during their conflict, there were not many words exchanged between the family. Parents B chose to ignore the cry of the daughters. There is obviously a lack of warmth between their interaction.

While Mother B did demand her daughter to stop crying, it is hard to determine the demandingness of parent-toddler pair B within a few minutes of observation. The parenting style of Parents B would be classified as either authoritarian or neglectful parenting.

Both parenting styles can lead to many negative outcomes in child development. Because of parents’ low responsiveness, children generally have lower self-esteem. Children grew up in this kind of home environment tend to be more insecure and may face more problems later on in relationships.

Base on the appearance and the language spoken by Parents B, they are likely to be an immigrant family. According to past research, children from minority families may perform better in school and work under stricter rules. With this in mind, authoritarian parenting may not have as many negative outcomes.

In the case of parents-toddler pair B, parenting styles categorization would not describe their interaction accurately. There are more factors to consider and less information gathered from the observation.

Pair C

Within the few minutes’ of observation, Parents C showed both high responsiveness and high demandingness. Their parenting style can be classified as authoritative parenting.

Parents C showed much attention and care to the children. The fact that Mother C was able to name every character on the Disney parade showed that she must have been very involved in her children’s daily life. Besides the warmth and care, Mother C was also very clear with rules and boundaries. When the children made mistakes, she did not hesitate to correct them. Rather than directly demanding obedience, she also let her children know the reason why they were wrong. She also stuck to her rules and did not compromise. She was able to find a balance between rules and warmth – by letting her children stand on their strollers, they can have a better view without occupying other people’s spots.

With high expectations and high Authoritative parenting is considered the healthiest parenting style. It is associated with many positive outcomes: more self-esteem, better social skills, and even higher academic and job performance. Children of authoritative parents tend to be happier and more independent. Therefore given my observation, Children C are more likely to be the most successful in the future.

Other Things to Consider

While the three parents-toddler pairs I chose to present are already quite typical, the classification may still not be accurate. First of all, the categorization of parenting styles is based on long-term behaviors of parents. It is hard to determine the responsiveness and demandingness of parents within a few minutes of observation.

Additionally, the location of my observation may also affect the results. In the setting of an amusement park, it is hard to determine the attitude of parents in daily life.

Also, a child’s development is affected by many different factors. A child’s future success should not be determined by how their parents behaved under my unobtrusive observation.

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