Parenting Styles & Influence​​
In most cases, parents are the most influential people in a child's early life. This influence is demonstrated in the following ways.
  • Parents are usually the child's first, most frequent, and most consistent partners in social instruction. They teach the child how to interpret their social environment. By providing a nurturing comfortable and stimulating environment children may come to see their world as a secure, pleasant, and interesting place to live.
  • Parents are managers of behaviour. They enforce rules and set standards of conduct both within the home and outside the home. Parental discipline can teach children what is socially appropriate and inappropriate, as well as what is morally right and wrong.
  • Parents act as role models for children. Actions speak louder than words, as children consciously and unconsciously internalize the behaviours, ideas, and values of their parents.
  • Parents are teachers in the lives of their children. They directly supply knowledge, impart values, and actively encourage desired behaviours and attitudes. They teach children colours and numbers but they also teach them to speak the truth, to respect their grandparents, and so on.
  • Parents can do a lot to bolster or to weaken a child's sense of self. If, for example, parents encourage their children to express their own viewpoints, the children will become accustomed to healthy interactions. If they treat children's feelings with respect then children are more likely to respect the feelings of others.

Following is a chart outlining some parental practices that weaken and promote self-esteem in children.
Practices That Weaken Self- Esteem
Belittling Feelings
Insistence on Conformity
Parental Insecurity
Harsh Punishments for Purposes of Control
Stifling Communication
Practices That Promote Self-Esteem
Acceptance of Differences
Encouragement of Creativity and Uniqueness
Freedom of Choice
Permission for Expression
Respect for Feelings
Involvement in Lives
High but Realistic Expectations of Children
Parenting Styles
The Permissive Parent is highly supportive but makes few rules and trusts rather than monitors. The Authoritative Parent is highly supportive AND closely monitors and sets rules. The Uninvolved Parent sets few rules, does not monitor, and offers little active support. The Authoritarian Parent sets many rules and closely monitors but offers little support.
The Permissive Parent is highly supportive but makes few rules and trusts rather than monitors. The Authoritative Parent is highly supportive AND closely monitors and sets rules. The Uninvolved Parent sets few rules, does not monitor, and offers little active support. The Authoritarian Parent sets many rules and closely monitors but offers little support.

Authoritarian Parenting
(also called Autocratic or Traditional Parenting)
Authoritarian parenting is characterized by strict limits and little or no freedom for children. Parents try to control their children's behaviour and attitudes. Children are expected to conform to rules and absolute standards of conduct.Authoritarian parents value:
  • obedience,
  • respect for authority, and,
  • responsibility to others.

Permissive Parenting

Permissive parenting is characterized by freedom and the absence of limits. Parents make few demands and allow their children to direct their own behaviour and activities as much as possible. Parents consider themselves as resources. Their goals for their children include:
  • freedom,
  • respect for self, and
  • responsibility to self.
Parents attempt to please their children. Children's needs are considered more important than their own. Permissive parents attempt to use reason and manipulation to achieve results. They explain the reasons underlying the few family rules that do exist and they consult with children about decisions affecting the family. Permissive parents avoid punishing their children. The parent-child relationship revolves around service by the parent and demands by the child. Parents are non-controlling, nondemanding, and relatively warm, but without parental leadership and structure the home atmosphere may be chaotic.
Negative Results of Permissive Parenting
  • Children suffer a loss of self-esteem
  • Children learn to manipulate their parents
  • Permissive Parents feel resentful towards their children and also feel taken for granted and taken advantage of
  • Children lack discipline and a sense of connectedness with family
  • Children are more impulsive and lack self-discipline to control their emotions and actions
  • Children have lower levels of academic achievement and higher rates of misconduct and drug use
  • Children who do not accept responsibility for their actions
  • Children who are immature and lack friendships and basic social skills
  • Children who don’t understand why they can’t have everything they want
  • Children who become defiant when they don’t get what they want
  • Children who lack the ability or will to persist in challenging tasks and to see them through to completion
  • Children who are more prone to act out on their aggressive and sexual impulses
  • Children who lack motivation and seek for the easy way out
  • Children who lack independence, ironically one of the characteristics Permissive Parenting is thought to foster in children

Democratic/Autocratic Parenting

Democratic parenting is characterized by some freedom within moderate limits. Parents attempt to lead or direct their children's behaviour and activities. While they have confidence in their ability to guide their children, they respect children's ideas, interests, and unique personal qualities. They temper control with encouragement and support. Parents try to exercise leadership and direction without suppressing the child's self-respect or individuality. Parents promote and encourage the following traits in their children
  • cooperation,
  • respect for others,
  • courage, and
  • responsibility to both self and others.
Democratic parents exert firm control when necessary but they explain reasons for the position and encourage discussion. They use logical consequences, conflict resolution techniques, family meetings, incentives, routines, and mutually agreed to rules as discipline tools. Democratic parents realize the importance of their own needs and those of their children. The parent-child relationship is loving, consistent, and respectful which leads to a relaxed, orderly, and positive home atmosphere.

Parenting Styles Analogy

Tennis ball

Some parents are like the rock — rigid with very strict rules. They try to control their children by using threats and punishment. They may not show much love.
They treat children like they are possessions. Let’s call this parenting style too hard.
Some parents are like the marshmallow — they are very soft on their children and have very few rules or limits. They let the children have whatever they want.
They may be very loving and warm. They are too busy or too insecure to enforce limits or rules with their children. We’ll call this parenting style too soft.

Some parents are like the tennis ball — firm but flexible. They have clear limits but are flexible based on the needs of the children. They are loving but do not
give in to every wish of their children. They respect themselves and the child.They set consequences fo misbehavior and follow through. They let their
children make appropriate decisions. Let’s call this parenting style just right.

Same-Sex Parenting
Studies have shown that children growing up in households with parents of the same sex are doing just as well as children in heterosexual-parenting households. There is no significant difference in self-esteem, gender identity confusion, or confusion in sexual orientation. Some psychologists have even found that children with homosexual parents are more empathetic, and more accepting of other cultures or differences from one group of people to another.

Divorce and Single Parenting
"Broken home." This is a derogatory label that causes much pain and misunderstanding. Too often, children living in single parent households have to contend with negative stereotypes and hurtful remarks made by Insensitive adults. Regardless of whether the single parent family exists as a result of divorce or death of the other parent, the child is clearly not responsible for the circumstances. However, it is the child who often pays the price: the child who has to write an essay because a parent cannot afford Back to School night, the child who has to sit on the bench because he/she misses practices while visiting the other parent, the child who comes home crying from school, sad when he/she doesn't know who to make a Father's Day card for because his father died. As adults - teachers, coaches, neighbors, family, and friends, we can change our attitude, be more sensitive and compassionate, and recognize that SINGLE PARENTS RAISE GOOD KIDS TOO!

Affects On Children with Divorced Parents
Children with Divorced parents seem to be more adequate at knowing how to act around different people, to please that particular person. This seems to stem from the seperation of parenting styles that happens when parents act seperately. Different parenting styles have different affects on the children.

Dysfunctional Families

In this unit you were introduced to three parenting styles: Authoritarian, Permissive and Democratic. Some psychologists include a fourth approach sometimes called the Neglecting style of parenting. As the name suggests, neglecting parents are physically and emotionally uncaring and unavailable to meet the needs of their children. The Neglecting parenting style was deliberately excluded from the earlier discussion of parenting styles because it has no place in society. No child should have to live in a home where he/she is uncared for and unloved. Unfortunately, it happens far more frequently than society is willing to acknowledge. This leads to our next topic of discussion, dysfunctional families.

Dysfunctional families can be described as families where the relationships among family members are not conducive to emotional and physical health. Most families have some temporary periods of stressful circumstances. However, healthy families seem to be able to recover and return to normal functioning after the crisis passes. Not so in dysfunctional families where negative patterns of parental behaviour are consistent and long-term. Some conditions commonly associated with dysfunctional
family relationships include sexual or physical abuse, drug and alcohol addictions, delinquency, eating disorders, and aggressive or violent behaviour. It should be noted that parents in dysfunctional families can hurt their children by omission or neglect and/or by abusive acts. In reality, dysfunctional families take many different forms.

Read the following snapshots of individuals whose families could be classified as dysfunctional, based on the description of dysfunctional families given in this course.

"I never really had a childhood. As a child I cooked, cleaned, and took responsibility for my younger siblings. My mom was sick a lot and spent most of her time in bed. Her poor physical condition and her depression made life's challenges seem enormous and she gave up. I work hard to meet everyone else's needs and expectation but rarely meet my own."

" My dad is an alcoholic. I say it to you because you don't know who I am. In reality, his sickness is somewhat of a family secret. I don't invite my friends over because I don't want them to see what my family is really like. I don't get close to people and I don't let other people get close to me. It's lonely but you don't get hurt that way."

"I feel like i am suffocating. My parents tell me that they are only being protective but they control my life. They dictate who my friends are, who I can date, and what courses I can and cannot take in order to get into the college they have selected for me. They expect me to be perfect. I try hard, but I can never please them. If I get less than 100% on a test they want to know where and how I lost marks. They expect me to be responsible but they won't let me make any decisions for myself."

Family circumstances such as parental alcoholism, mental illness, child abuse, or extreme parental rigidity and control, interfere with family functioning and the effects on children can be traumatic and long-lasting. Compared to well-cared for children, chronically abused or neglected children tend to be underweight, are less able to concentrate, have slower speech development and are delayed in academic growth. On the social side, they tend to be less friendly, more aggressive and more isolated. Adolescents who have been abused or neglected may use alcohol or drugs to escape their emotions. Eating disorders and self-destructive behaviours are also symptomatic of neglecting or abusive family environments. Research indicates that adults who have been raised in dysfunctional families may have difficulties in forming and maintaining intimate relationships - a topic discussed later in this unit. They may also have problems with low self-esteem and in trusting others. They are more likely to fear loss of control and may become very controlling in their relationships with others and so the cycle may continue. The abused may become
abusers in an attempt to control situations and compensate for the lack of control they felt as innocent children and victims of child abuse. Research indicates between thirty to forty percent of abused children actually become child abusers themselves. The continuance of neglectful or abusive behaviour is not automatic or reversible. The conditioning is there but the choice remains a personal one. Victims of dysfunctional families are survivors. For example, people raised in a dysfunctional family environment often have an increased empathy for others. They are often achievement oriented and highly successful in some areas of their life. They are frequently more resilient to stress and more adaptive to change than individuals from functional families. Dysfunctional family survivors are encouraged to acknowledge these positive qualities in themselves and to seek counseling that may allow them to face the realities of their past and develop the skills and attitudes that promote self-esteem, and trust.

Adults raised with family dysfunction report a variety of long-term effects. The following questions may help you assess your own situation. Answering "Yes" to these may indicate some effects from family dysfunction. Most people could likely identify with some of them. If you find yourself answering "Yes" to over half of them, you likely have some long-term effects of living in a dysfunctional family. If you find yourself answering "Yes" to the majority of them you might consider seeking some additional help.

  1. Do you find yourself needing approval from others to feel good about yourself? Yes_ No_
  2. Do you agree to do more for others than you can comfortably accomplish? Yes_ No_
  3. Are you perfectionistic? Yes_ No_
  4. Or do you tend to avoid or ignore responsibilities? Yes_ No_
  5. Do you find it difficult to identify what you're feeling? Yes_ No_
  6. Do you find it difficult to express feelings? Yes_ No_
  7. Do you tend to think in all-or-nothing terms? Yes_ No_
  8. Do you often feel lonely even in the presence of others? Yes_ No_
  9. Is it difficult for you to ask for what you need from others? Yes_ No_
  10. Is it difficult for you to maintain intimate relationships? Yes_ No_
  11. Do you find it difficult to trust others? Yes_ No_
  12. Do you tend to hang on to hurtful or destructive relationships? Yes_ No_
  13. Are you more aware of others' needs and feelings than your own? Yes_ No_
  14. Do you find it particularly difficult to deal with anger or criticism? Yes_ No_
  15. Is it hard for you to relax and enjoy yourself? Yes_ No_
  16. Do you find yourself feeling like a "fake" in your academic or professional life? Yes_ No_
  17. Do you find yourself waiting for disaster to strike even when things are going well in your life?
    Yes_ No_
  18. Do you find yourself having difficulty with authority figures? Yes_ No_


What Kind of Parent Are You?

Additional References/Notes - couple of family traits assignments (passed on generationally) actions commonly used in dysfunctional families - assignment below, how to overcome dysfuncitonal trauma

Spoiling Your Child

Spoiled kids are not pleasant to be around. Other children don't like them because they're too bossy and selfish. Adults don't like them because they're often rude and demanding.spoiled kids have reduced perseverance. Because they’re used to getting their way — and getting it ASAP —they not only may have reduced perseverance when it comes to schoolwork, but also a tougher time handling adversity.
Spoiling your kids does a real number on their self-esteem, too. new research shows that always getting what you want leads to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, more psychosomatic complaints, and worse relationships with parents. Spoil your kids, and you’re in real danger of producing an always-unsatisfied kid who always wants more, and your spoiled kid will almost certainly lack character. She writes, “Spoiled kids often measure their worth based on what they have instead of who they are.

More Toys Vs. Less Toys

Toys are not only playthings. Toys form the building blocks for our child’s future. They teach our children about the world and about themselves. They send messages and communicate values. Therefore, wise parents think about what foundation is being laid by the toys that are given to their kids.

1) Kids learn to be more creative. Too many toys prevent kids from fully developing their gift of imagination.

2) Kids develop longer attention spans. When too many toys are introduced into a child’s life, their attention span will begin to suffer. A child will rarely learn to fully appreciate the toy in front of them when there are countless options still remaining on the shelf behind them.

3) Kids establish better social skills.Children with fewer toys learn how to develop interpersonal relationships with other kids and adults. They learn the give and take of a good conversation.

4) Kids learn to take greater care of things. When kids have too many toys, they will naturally take less care of them. They will not learn to value them if there is always a replacement ready at hand. If you have a child who is constantly damaging their toys, just take a bunch away. He will quickly learn.

5) Kids develop a greater love for reading, writing, and art.Fewer toys allows your children to love books, music, coloring, and painting. And a love for art will help them better appreciate beauty, emotion, and communication in their world.

6) Kids become more resourceful.In education, students aren’t just given the answer to a problem; they are given the tools to find the answer. In entertainment and play, the same principle can be applied. Fewer toys causes children to become resourceful by solving problems with only the materials at hand. And resourcefulness is a gift with unlimited potential.

7) Kids argue with each other less. This may seem counter-intuitive. Many parents believe that more toys will result in less fighting because there are more options available. However, the opposite is true far too often. Siblings argue about toys. And every time we introduce a new toy into the relationship, we give them another reason to establish their “territory” among the others. On the other hand, siblings with fewer toys are forced to share, collaborate, and work together.

8) Kids learn perseverance. Children who have too many toys give up too quickly. If they have a toy that they can’t figure out, it will quickly be discarded for the sake of a different, easier one. Kids with fewer toys learn perseverance, patience, and determination.

9) Kids become less selfish. Kids who get everything they want believe they can have everything they want. This attitude will quickly lead to an unhealthy (and unbecoming) lifestyle.

10) Kids live in a cleaner, tidier home. If you have children, you know that toy clutter can quickly take over an entire home. Fewer toys results in a less-cluttered, cleaner, healthier home.

Parenting By Example:

The most important role model in any child's life is the parents. The child learns right from wrong by observation. The parent can choose to portray good or bad behaviour and the child will see it as normal. if a child witnesses domestic abuse on a regular occasion, the child will likely think that is normal and continue on into marriage with this trait. However if the child witnesses a good home and stable parents on numerous occasions, the child will likely think this is normal behaviour and continue on into marriage with this trait.