Learning from our Parent’s mistakes

There is a fine line between good and bad parenting styles but one thing is for sure..get it wrong and your child will suffer in adulthood!

The difficult thing is to work out what is the best style and how to consistently apply it. Not an easy job under the best of circumstances and we mostly all get it wrong. However, the consequences of inadequate parenting can be seen everywhere. Adults who suffer from depression, perfectionism, lack of self-esteem can all pinpoint the start of this to upbringing and parenting styles.

As parents, we feel our job is give our children more than we had, to make them the best they possibly can be. We work hard, we push them, we love them,  we sacrifice ourselves, maybe our career and relationships for the “sake of the kids”. And yet it never seems enough and something always seems to be missing. It seems that children generally tend to succeed despite the parents rather than because of them and spend their adult lives trying to make sense of what went before. So how can all this good intention go so horribly wrong sometimes? Firstly, parents had parents too and are also a product of a “parenting style”. They often carry this forward as an example and a model of how it should be done (or not).  Secondly, even with the best of intentions, it is sometimes hard to push through optimum  parenting styles when dealing with everyday stress, especially when there is more than one child. So, we muddle through, do the best we can under the circumstances without realising we are sowing the seeds of dysfunction in the next generation.

In our attempts as parents to show the right amount of discipline or protection, we are often too strict with our children. Most parents believe, wrongly, I might add, that children dealt with strictly go on to become balanced, polite adults. Setting harsh limits may certainly temporarily control behavior and a parent may feel that the job is done but it takes away a child’s ability to self-regulate behavior, one of the best tools a parent can give a child. Instead harsh limits will more often than not trigger resistance. They also see themselves being controlled from outside.  Get it right and they will self-internalise their own limits of behavior brought about by loving, emphatic limits. The ability as a parent to listen as well as talk is absent in this style and research has shown that children from authoritarian parents tend to more rebellious, bully more, learn that only “power” works and suffer more from depression and low self-esteem. On the other hand, authoritative parents set boundaries but are much more democratic, assertive but not over hard. Is then the alternative permissive parenting where few demands and boundaries are set?  Permissive parents set few limits on their children’s behavior and while showing love and empathy act more as a friend than a parent. The parents have low expectations of self-control and subsequently, rarely discipline their children. They are generally more nurturing and loving with their offspring but boundaries are often grey and when done wrong, can lead to poor social skills, children who are self-centered and demanding or lack self-esteem due to not recognising borders.

During the early 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study on more than 100 preschool-age children (Baumrind, 1967). She identified four important dimensions of parenting:

  • Disciplinary strategies
  • Warmth and nurture
  • Communication styles
  • Expectations of maturity and control

Using this as a guideline, she came up with four distinct parenting styles, authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and uninvolved.  In addition to Baumrind’s initial study of 100 preschool children, researchers have conducted numerous other studies than have led to a number of conclusions about the impact of parenting styles on children.

  • Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but they rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.
  • Authoritative parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable and successful (Maccoby, 1992).Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation.
  • These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.
  • Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across all life domains. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.

It would be easy to suggest that all parents should adopt an authoritative style as that has shown the best results. However, this disregards the many factors that go into to creating a parenting style in the first place such as education, culture, parental influence and social situation. The answer lies in the co-operation between two different individuals working together for the good of their children.

Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a Counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals,couples,  groups and companies globally. Online therapy is, in his experience, effective for treating a number of major conditions. Are you having issues that you need to talk through? He has a range of plans that can help you get the help you need.  Online Therapy details : Here ……

  7 comments for “Learning from our Parent’s mistakes

  1. Kenneth Kennard
    November 11, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Good. Thank you!

    My parenting styles were simply to end their lives. Father, when I was 5, and Mother when I was 16. So relieved when Mother went. I had been her carer since I was 7. She was an alcoholic/depressive prostitute.

    Have you read any of A S Neil? “Neil, Neil, Orange Peel”? He was head of a private school where the pupils decided on teachers/lessons. Hated by the Establishment, it worked!


  2. November 11, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Interesting. My own father was an authoritarian and an emotionally absent father. The two children who became adults from ‘under’ his dictatorship both suffer in similar ways. I am now in recovery for pretty much a life long eating disorder and have real problems with anyone trying to pin me down. If I perceive someone trying to exert any kind of control over me; I’m gone physically and emotionally. In the end I’ve had to work for myself, as any authority figure can bring back the same feelings of being squashed that I experienced often as a child. Thanks for your insights.

    • November 11, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      Thank you for reading and commenting

      • November 11, 2013 at 3:16 pm

        Hi Ken..thanks for commenting. I haven’t read the book but I will check it out.

  3. November 11, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    I was luckiest, had no father aboard, war-time, so a convent with strong discipline, therefore no muddling about. I’ve seen worse.

  4. November 11, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Reblogged this on helenscribe.

  5. November 12, 2013 at 1:16 am

    I think as parents these days your kind of damned if you do and dammed if you don’t!
    I believe the best thing a parent can do is love them, listen to them and teach them right from wrong. Will they get it? Maybe maybe not but in the end they all work this one out. Hugs Paula xxx

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: