I recently read an interesting article in Time Magazine (find it here) that focused on two types of parenting styles:
- authoritative, in which parents set rules and boundaries but explain their reasoning and show understanding when the rules are broken; and
- authoritarian, in which parents set strict rules but aren’t as open to discussing and explaining them to their children.
One style of parenting is significantly better than the other, and I’m here to offer you some tools that let your children self-direct their own lives without you micro-managing their every move, which builds self-esteem and confidence.
ASK YOURSELF THE TOUGH QUESTION: DOES THIS SOUND LIKE ME?
Parents who rule with an iron fist under an authoritarian regime don’t express much warmth, are overly strict, and don’t explain the reasoning behind their expectations.
These types of parents are uptight and stressed out in their own lives, and end up taking out their frustration on their children. My goal is to give you ideas and steps that guide you into an authoritative parenting style.
HOW TO PROPERLY REACT TO STRESSFUL SITUATIONS
Let me walk you through a scenario on how to be an authoritative parent. In my home of 3 boys (ages 10, 6, and 2), the older two know it’s their job to gather anything they might need for the day and pack it up in their backpacks. Sometimes I remind them of little things to grab, but the boys know the drill and take full responsibility for their belongings. This process teaches them how to take charge of their lives and to be responsible beings.
So one day after the start of my 10-year-old’s day I received an email from his teacher that he had forgotten his basketball shoes for his game at 5:00pm. Immediately I thought, “You really messed that one up, Cole.” Then I thought, “Too bad dude. Mommy is out all day and can’t run home to get your shoes. It was your responsibility to grab those PRECIOUS shoes.” However, I didn’t start huffing and puffing or shoot off an angry reply to his teacher. I knew he would be mad at himself, and I felt badly that he was probably upset, but that didn’t mean this wasn’t all on him.
I ended up bringing the shoes 5 minutes into the start of the basketball game. Later in the car I reminded him that it was his goof in a matter-of-fact way and we moved on. It wasn’t heated; there was no yelling, blame, or harsh words. The reality is he’s 10 and he simply forgot his shoes. Who cares, it’s no big deal!
Of course, just from this 1 simple learning moment Cole has never forgotten his basketball shoes again. Plus, it’s focused him even more in the mornings; now he stops and does a mental check of everything he needs for the day.
When you’re an authoritative parent you provide calm and consistent guidance to your child. You are not a pushover, nor do you freak out, but rather train your child to be a thriving being (like being in control of their eating, their emotions, and their actions). The point of authoritative parenting is to teach your child to make smart choices. The absolute best reward is a self-sufficient child and a happy mommy that gets to have time to do the things she enjoys.