Seminar Date: March 3, 2011

The topic today at Palisades High School was “The Changing Roles of Parents.” Parents were interested in how to communicate their needs for a deeper relationship within the family. Richard encouraged parents to state their needs in their relationship and target ‘the relationship’ instead of the child. This may feel less threatening to teenagers and includes them in the equation. In the process of building a relationship with your teen, you are nurturing your own needs and modeling good relationship skills for your teen to use in relationships beyond the family. These skills are life lessons well worth mastering and provide the safety of the family where unconditional love can buffer the missteps. It’s perfectly acceptable to say something along the lines of “I am interested in a deeper relationship with you. You are important to me. I would enjoy some one-on-one time with you. Lets go to the movies this weekend and grab a bite afterward. How does that sound?”

Many parents in attendance shared the feeling that they are in a ‘wait and see mode’ for any effort or attention that goes into the relationship with their teens and that the teens hold all the power. Richard urged parents to take back the reins and be an active participant in the process. Make appropriate and ‘friendly’ demands on your family members for the relationship you want to have. Stated clearly and appropriately, your needs are important too. Your kids do want your love and a connection that goes beyond feeding and driving. When they know you want that too, it can be a great starting point.

Upon the request of some parents, Richard revisited the works of A. Rae Simpson and the different steps of parenting, and Diana Baumrind’s work on the styles of parenting.

A. Rae Simpson’s 5 steps of parenting are:

  1. Love and connect
  2. Monitor and observe
  3. Guide and limit
  4. Model and consult
  5. Provide and advocate

Diana Baumrind’s 3 styles of parenting are:

  1. Authoritative: The authoritative parent attempts to direct the child’s activities but in a rational, issue-oriented manner. She [the parent] encourages verbal give and take, shares with the child the reasoning behind her policy, and solicits his objections when he refuses to conform. Both autonomous self-will and disciplined conformity are valued. [She values both expressive and instrumental attributes, both autonomous self-will and disciplined conformity] … Therefore she exerts firm control at points of parent-child divergence, but does not hem the child in with restrictions. She enforces her own perspective as an adult, but recognizes the child’s individual interests and special ways. The authoritative parent affirms the child’s present qualities, but also sets standards for future conduct. She uses reason, power, and shaping by regime and reinforcement to achieve her objectives, and does not base her decisions on group consensus or the individual child’s desires. [… but also does not regard herself as infallible, or divinely inspired.] (p. 891) [Note that portions in brackets are significant additions to the prototype in Baumrind (1967).]
  2. Authoritarian: The authoritarian parent attempts to shape, control, and evaluate the behavior and attitudes of the child in accordance with a set standard of conduct, usually an absolute standard, theologically motivated and formulated by a higher authority. She [the parent] values obedience as a virtue and favors punitive, forceful measures to curb self-will at points where the child’s actions or beliefs conflict with what she thinks is right conduct. She believes in keeping the child in his place, , in restricting his autonomy, and in assigning household responsibilities in order to inculcate respect for work. She regards the preservation of order and traditional structure as a highly valued end in itself. She does not encourage verbal give and take, believing that the child should accept her word for what is right (p. 890).
  3. Permissive/Democratic: The permissive parent attempts to behave in a non-punitive, acceptant and affirmative manner towards the child’s impulses, desires, and actions. She [the parent] consults with him [the child] about policy decisions and gives explanations for family rules. She makes few demands for household responsibility and orderly behavior. She presents herself to the child as a resource for him to use as he wishes, not as an ideal for him to emulate, nor as an active agent responsible for shaping or altering his ongoing or future behavior. She allows the child to regulate his own activities as much as possible, avoids the exercise of control, and does not encourage him to obey externally defined standards. She attempts to use reason and manipulation, but not overt power to accomplish her ends (p. 889).

According to Baumrind, the child’s behaviors (below) are linked to their respective styles of parenting.

  • Authoritative Parenting
    • lively and happy disposition
    • self-confident about ability to master tasks.
    • well developed emotion regulation
    • developed social skills
    • less rigid about gender-typed traits (exp: sensitivity in boys and independence in girls)
  • Authoritarian Parenting
    • anxious, withdrawn, and unhappy disposition
    • poor reactions to frustration (girls are particularly likely to give up and boys become especially hostile)
    • do well in school (studies may show authoritative parenting is comparable)
    • not likely to engage in antisocial activities (exp: drug and alcohol abuse, vandalism, gangs)
  • Permissive Parenting
    • poor emotion regulation (under regulated)
    • rebellious and defiant when desires are challenged.
    • low persistence to challenging tasks
    • antisocial behaviors

Baumrind goes on to summarize:

Nurturing parents who are secure in the standards they hold for their children provide models of caring concern as well as confident, self-controlled behavior. A child’s modeling of these parents provides emotion regulation skills, emotional understanding, and social understanding.

Parents who combine warmth and rational and reasonable control are likely to be more effective reinforcing agents. They praise children for striving to meet their expectations and making good use of disapproval, which works best when applied by an adult who has been warm and caring.

Authoritative parents make demands that fit with children’s ability to take responsibility for their own behavior. Children subsequently learn that they are competent individuals who can do things successfully for themselves. This fosters high self-esteem, cognitive development, and emotional maturity.

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