September 1, 2016
By Lisa Keane, MAMFC, LPC-S, RPT-S, NCC
Pathways Professional Counseling
Oh the joys of parenthood. It never fails to amaze me how many decisions there are in the world of parenting. What should we feed our child? How soon should we start this or that? The decisions are endless.
As parents face each new decision, conflict is bound to arise. Sometimes the smallest of issues can develop into an all-out battle between spouses.
Parents seeking to find a compromise should take an honest look at their own family history, communicate with each other and spend time praying together.
An individual’s parenting history greatly influences how that person will parent his or her own children. As a parent, you must be willing to evaluate your own upbringing and communicate your feelings about your childhood experiences.
Another thing parents can do is research different parenting styles and their outcomes. In most parenting literature there are four common parenting styles. It is important to remember that all of these parenting styles fall on a continuum and we rarely fit exactly into one type.
- Authoritative parenting is a more balanced style of parenting where parents are attentive. Authoritative parents are focused on strengthening their relationship with their child and on teaching their child appropriate behaviors. Authoritative parents clearly communicate their expectations and when children meet these expectations they earn rewards. When the expectations are not met there are reasonable consequences. There is a balance between relationship and rules.
- Authoritarian parents are very strict. They focus on rules, often at the expense of the parent-child relationship. If a parent says “because I said so” more than a few times a week in response to their child’s inquiries about family rules, that parent may be a more authoritarian parent.
- Permissive parents focus on the relationship, often at the expense of the rules. Permissive parents often see their children as “able to do no wrong.” Permissive parents may have poor self-esteem and are often uncomfortable with their own personal limitations and challenges.
- Uninvolved parents neglect both the relationship and the rules. Their children are perhaps the most unfortunate in that often they will be neglected both emotionally and relationally.
While all parents must decide which approach they will take, most research suggests that an authoritative approach to parenting generally produces well-adjusted children who have healthy relationships.
Ultimately your goal is to work together with your spouse to parent your child in a way that glorifies God. As parents, our job is neither to raise perfect children nor to be perfect ourselves. Our job is to point our children to Christ in the way we love and guide them.
As parents, we must seek God in our decision making and not only work to communicate with our spouses but to communicate with God about the decisions we have to make. Seek out God’s guidance together and pray for the wisdom only He can provide.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Lisa Keane is the clinical director for Pathways Professional Counseling, a ministry of Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries. This article first appeared in an October 2013 issue with the Faith and Family series.