How did you learn to be a parent? And how do you know when your parenting is helping to create a wise and capable future adult and when it is getting in the way?
Having spent years working with parents, I see some repeating parenting styles – some productive, many unproductive. I use the labels of productive and unproductive as they relate to the impact on the kids, not on how parents view themselves. In other words, productive parenting styles encourage kids to discover who they are, learn about their talents, passions and values, get clear about what opportunities in work, school and life fit them, learn to accept, value and treasure who they authentically are all while building a trusting and loving lifetime relationship with the parent. Unproductive styles don’t support this self-discovery process or don’t intentionally work to create the parent-child bond. See if you notice yourself in any of these parenting styles and whether how you parent is helping or stopping your kids from getting ready for their great and amazing lives.
Unproductive parenting styles
Lawnmower parent – You are ready to mow anyone down who gets in the way of your kids’ achievement, success or happiness.
Helicopter (or training wheel) parent – You constantly hovering over your kids, involved in all of their decisions, choices and directions; you assist them on everything – homework, activities, life skills because you don’t trust them or you don’t trust the world.
Blackhawk parent – You come to all situations with guns blazing and demanding action – you take control of your kids’ situations, challenges and obstacles.
Fairytale parent – You only sees the good in your kids – you are not realistic about their abilities, interests or behaviors.
Google parent – You have the answer for everything; you act as a definitive source about everything – you never let your kids discover, learn or try things on their own.
Cinderella parent – You allow yourself to be treated like the hired help; you jump and respond to the whims and wishes of your kids as if they were royalty.
Tiffany parent – You are convinced that giving gifts equals love; you are uncontrolled in the material gifts given to a point where your kids have little or no concept of value.
Thunderstorm parent – You always find some fault with your kids – you are the constant negative voice reminding them what is wrong, not good or is disappointing about them.
Crystal Ball parent – You are ready to tell your kids how to live, who to be, what life and work should be like, what will make them happy – and on and on.
Drill Sargent parent – You take control, bark orders, demand, confront and challenge; your child has no ability to have a perspective or a voice in their own life or direction.
Pageant parent – You constantly make everything a competition or a comparison – you use words like worst, best, richer, nicer, smarter, better; you always talk about winners and losers and constantly compare your kids to others (positive or negative).
Secret agent parent – You are always checking up on your kids – their social media, friends, grades, homework, looking in their drawers, searching their phone or computer – you are not good at giving or allowing privacy in the home.
Prosecutor parent – You drill your kids with questions – there are no boundaries on the type or amount of questions. You want to know everything and in great detail.
Parrot Parent – You constantly repeat what your parents or other parents/parenting sources say as your way of parenting – whether meaningful or not to your kids.
We all have traces of these – but are any of these your “go-to” parenting style? These styles, though mostly motivated by fear, take away some important authenticity, independence and clarity from your kids. Our kids can’t be ready for life if our parenting does all their thinking and living for them or doesn’t share a meaningful and realistic view of the world with them.
Let’s shift to more productive parenting styles. These styles are more motivated by helping their kids discover and be who they really are, not who they need them to be. These parenting styles believe that the greatest way for a child to be happy is to be authentic, aware and supported in learning how to make meaningful choices in today’s world. You’ll notice there are far fewer of these parenting styles because each style is so much more expansive.
Productive parenting styles
Improv parent – You show up, accept what is going on and use what you know in the moment to choose the best response for this situation and this child; you don’t use parenting scripts or apply a one-size-fits-all parenting to all situations and all kids.
Coaching parent – You regularly use questions to get your kids thinking and owning their choices, decisions and directions; you ask more than tell and you listen carefully to the responses. You help your kids discover, create and own their solutions.
Zen parent – You tune in, are present and manage your emotions; you can separate your child from his or her actions to address behaviors and still maintain affection for each child.
Professor parent – You encourage your kids to constantly learn – you introduce them to their world, ideas and opportunities. You like to discuss new things and share ideas to help them understand their world.
Internship parent – You encourage and support your kids to go out to the world and try new things to discover and develop their abilities and interests, and to find what matters most to them.
Realize that your parenting style tells a lot about what you believe and know about yourself. The clearer you are of your own abilities, the more confidently you can show up to your parenting, the more significantly you can focus a loving and guiding approach instead of one marked by fear or control. Be the guide from the side, not the sage on the stage.
Our kids need to be leaders of their own lives. Though we as parents know a lot more than our kids, they however, know more about themselves than we ever will. Including them, encouraging them, coaching them and guiding them helps them tap into their own minds to see what unique abilities they came packaged with that will help them not only find their way in life, but determine how to succeed, be happy and be responsible in life. This is how they become the leaders of their own lives become ready for their great and amazing lives.
This is great. It makes you REALLY look at what kind of parent you are, and what is great about that, and the “not so great” aspect too. There is so many ways to parent and everyone chooses to raise their children differently.
Great article! I think your parenting style also needs to be flexible and take the personality of the child into consideration as well. Some kids are naturally timid and need a ‘coach’ as a parent, some are too clever for their own good and might require a firmer style! The most important guide of course if your child, we need to remember sometimes it can be us that needs to learn from them sometimes.
I say one should do a minimal interference approach. Give an occasional helping hand, and maybe some advice, but it’s better if you just hang around in the back and help only when it’s necessary.
Well I work with children, and I cannot tell you how many of the parents that I see are lawnmower parents. I get it, you want to take care of your child and you think that you are the best one to do that, but at a certain point you really need to welcome the help that other people are offering. Now that I think about it, you can really trace through these descriptors above and pinpoint the different types, which is pretty alarming. I guess the key is having a little bit of all of them, but a health balance of course. Interesting article, and thanks for sharing.