We all are, aren’t we? It’s the perpetual new parent dilemma. We have high hopes. We set high goals. We want to give our kids the very best, and that includes us!
But this can also mean we’re really hard on ourselves. We start nitpicking at our own faults and failures. We turn into our own worst critics and our inner bully is unleashed.
I was reading a post recently at About.com entitled Parenting Styles: The Four Styles of Parenting and I thought, “Ah-HA! Here we go! Somewhere in this article I’m going to find the BEST style of parenting.” I know, silly right?
Well, here’s what psychologist Diana Baumrind found in her 1960’s study of 100+ pre-school age children (small study, I know) about parenting styles:
- Most parents fall into one of three categories. However, additional research in the early 1980’s added a fourth category.
- Of the four categories, one parenting style – the Authoritative Parent – stands out as the most effective in terms of raising happier, capable, more successful children.
Ah-HA! I did find it! The holy grail of parenting advice, right?
Well, hold on there turbo. Here’s what else the post has to say:
“There is no universally “best” style of parenting,” writes author Douglas Bernstein in his book Essentials of Psychology. “So authoritative parenting, which is so consistently linked with positive outcomes in European American families, is not related to better school performance among African American or Asian American youngsters.”
Interesting! First of all, I come from an Asian American background so presumably this style may not work so well for me. Second, Bernstein refers to “school performance” which reminds me – I’m not parenting with the primary goal of my kid getting great grades.
In fact, I’m not parenting with any truly quantifiable goals in mind. I don’t care if my child grows up to get stellar grades, land the most prestigious jobs, or make millions of dollars. Here’s what I want to know when they grow up:
Are you happy?
Is there joy in your heart?
Is there passion in your day?
Is your life full of love and laughter and the fulfillment of doing work you’re proud of?
I know it all sounds a little hippy-dippy, but when you get to the end of your life are you really going to pat yourself on the back for that one job title, that one raise, or that one car? Or are your memories of joy, laughter, fun, and love going to hold the most value in the end?
So maybe being the “best” parent you can be is one that gives your child memories of joy, laughter, fun, and love regardless of what “type” of parent you are.
Oh, and if you’re not at all aware of which “type” of parent you are the About.com post is worth a read, especially of you’re one type and your spouse is another. Understanding each other’s differences will help you find ways to resolve them and/or make compromises.
OR, you can watch a parenting style overview video below.
Onward, great parents!