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Parenting Styles


As a father, I’m always on the look out for new useful parenting information. Raising children creates a constant need for guidance as problems arise. Seeking professional advice to navigate these unchartered waters makes sense. I recently came across a thought provoking article by Dr. Michele Borba titled “7 Deadly Parenting Styles of Modern Day Child Rearing.” It’s derived from her book “The Big Book of Parenting Solutions.” These seven parenting styles are essentially extreme variations of possible paths parents might take on their journey of raising children. In trying to determine if my wife and I fit into any of these styles, the results were quite surprising.

The following is the list of 7 Deadly Parenting Styles of Modern Day Child Rearing according to Dr. Michele Borba coupled with the real life experience of my wife and I as parents:

Deadly Style 1: Helicopter Parenting - Hovering over your kids, hurrying to smooth every one of life’s bumps.

Without question I would deem this sort of style a typical rookie parent trap. One naturally tries to protect one’s child from any negative experience. But over time one learns to allow the child to experience failure in order to learn coping mechanisms as well as build confidence. I would consider this style of parenting fairly common and easily outgrown. My wife and I would certainly be former Helicopter Parents.

Deadly Style 2: Incubator “Hothouse” Parenting – Pushing your kids into learning earlier than appropriate for their cognitive age and developmental level.

The pressure to push one’s child can be overwhelming. The sheer number of publications and web sites stressing more learning at earlier ages is stifling. Advertisements make outrageous claims of educational breakthroughs with the additional marketing ploy of instilling parental guilt if you as a parent don’t partake to give your child an edge. My wife and I were also former “Hothouse” Parents. Fortunately our son’s one smart cookie and was able to keep up or exceed the demands of the pressure we imparted. Our daughter has not been subjected to these pressures. The lesson learned here was to be aware of the child’s needs and to adapt accordingly.

Deadly Style 3: (Quick-Fix) Band-Aid Parenting – Relying on fast solutions to temporarily fix a problem, instead aiming for real, lasting change.

My wife and I still find ourselves falling into this style every so often. The reason usually comes down to lack of time management as well as proper preparation for a variety of contingencies.

Deadly Style 4: Buddy Parenting – Placing popularity with your child above establishing limits, boundaries or saying no.

This can be chalked up to the simple premise of wanting to always be loved by one’s child. I know I for one did not willingly like to partake in being the “bad guy” during the first couple years of my son’s life. Yet over time reason trumps this human frailty. As a parent, you either adapt and evolve to instill discipline in a child’s life or be prepared for the consequences of inaction in the future. Thankfully, my wife and I chose to be responsible parents. Yet Buddy Parenting was initially our style as well.

Deadly Style 5: Accessory Parenting – Measuring your worth and success as a parent based on your child’s accolades.

I can honestly say my wife and I did not ever participate in such a narcissistic style. We both are from humble backgrounds which may have played a crucial role in avoiding falling into the Accessory Parenting trap. If a parent respects their children as unique individuals rather than extensions of themselves, the potential bitterness that might develop in the relationship between child and parent can be avoided.

Deadly Style 6: Paranoid Parenting – Obsessively keeping your child safe from any physical or psychological harm.

In the uncertain world we live in, the temptation for parents to insulate one’s children from physical or psychological harm runs deep. To this day, my wife and I find ourselves shielding our children from certain ugly truths such as mass murder, terrorism, acts of violence upon children by adults and so forth. Yet we have taken the approach to disperse information to our children in doses that are age appropriate. This falls under the realm of Lying to your Children which I wrote about in a previous article. Information may be withheld until such a time that they can comprehend the details.

In a more general sense, of course it’s okay to allow a child to fall off a bike or experience the sting of defeat. These are milestones in one’s life which build character.

So I wouldn’t deem my wife and I Paranoid Parents, but rather pragmatists. A full fledged Paranoid Parenting style over time would leave one’s children lacking coping skills in the future.

Deadly Style 7: Secondary Parenting – Relinquishing your influence such that your children’s world is controlled more by outsiders-including corporations, marketers and the media

To be fair, many parents need dual incomes to provide for their children. The result may indeed be a Secondary Parenting style. Many children in my generation grew up as “latch key” kids. Our parents gave us more responsibility at an early age. Yet we were not subjected at the time by the variety of choices of media that modern kids grapple with on a daily basis. In this era of instant demand, instant access for everything, today’s parents need to be completely engaged about controlling access. Also, maintaining a constant line of communication with primary care providers as well as one’s own children can make a huge difference. Secondary Style Parenting just simply needs to be redefined to reflect today’s world.

Final Thoughts

The results of examining the various styles of parenting offered a unique opportunity for introspection. As our children grow, so do we as parents. With any luck we’ll continue to evolve in order to adapt to the challenges the lie ahead. As time passes, more parenting styles will inevitably develop reflecting societal changes. New challenges, new priorities, yet the same desire to be the best parents we can be for our children.

What kind of parenting style have you employed? Did you ever fall into any of the above parenting styles?

  • Shoebuf

    Over the years I have been guilty of different parenting styles. Always tried what I believed would work. As my children grow and learn so do I as a parent.

    • Anonymous

      That’s usually the case. It helps to seek out a few trusted mentors (i.e. experienced parents, etc.) to help make sense of the clutter of information that’s available.

  • SeattleDad

    Finind more and more necessary to evolve from the buddy parent now that Lukas is 3. That’s ok though, that is not a long term parentling style anyway, tough I will always want him to think of me as a friend.

    • Anonymous

      I can relate to the need to evolve from the buddy parent. I still find myself falling back into it from time to time.

  • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

    Excellent post. I’d summarize what I’ve just read here with one of my favorite sayings about parenting – Be your kids BEST PARENT rather than their best friend. They don’t need you to be their friend. In fact, if you’re doing your job, sometimes you really won’t be their friend because, as referenced in your post, setting boundaries, saying “NO!”, doesn’t win them over, but teaches them responsibility. Too many kids are just spoiled rotten today and aren’t learning independence. That, among many other macro reasons, is why we’re finding college grads coming back to live at home in droves. Excellent!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the wisdom Bruce. As a parent it takes a tremendous amount of self discipline to be the ”best parent” as you mentioned. Fortunately over time, the transition from “best buddy” to “best parent” becomes easier. Funny how parents and children truly grow up together.

  • http://www.allgiftsmusic.com/ Susan Kay Wyatt

    Love this post! I have been guilty of some helicopter and buddy parenting. I manage to lay down the law though. I love when these things are brought to my attention. It helps me keep myself in check. And THAT leads to me being the BEST PARENT I can be! I am lucky. I have a really great kid who doesn’t have any “diagnosed” mental or health issues. Just the normal stuff. Grateful.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for your comment Susan. Being the BEST PARENT truly is the goal. The ability to adapt can not be understated. The one constant I’ve experienced since having children is change.

  • Bailey

    Vincent, I love this article, hits it right on target! I see these problems everyday at Playhouse! Would love for this author to come to Playhouse to talk to my parents! Thanks again for sharing!

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for your comment Bailey. And thank you for your support!

  • http://twitter.com/OWTK Jeff Bogle

    Gosh, I cannot find my own style in here. I’m often the “bad cop” parent, I challenge my girls to always think, observe and learn (probably on a steeper curve than appropriate or expected) but I also want to be a friend and trusted confidant when that’s what my kids need most.

    I call what I do “active parenting” – to be engaged, to listen, to teach (math, baking, science, whatever), to share in each other’s passions, and to have a boatload of fun together.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for commenting Jeff. Generally speaking, I don’t think parents neatly fit into any one particular style. I do find that there are times we slip into one style more so than others. Just part of adapting and evolving. It’s great you’ve managed to avoid many of the common pitfalls listed in the article. Active Parenting as you’ve described certainly will reap rewards for you and your children for years to come.

  • http://Raising-Bella.com Rodney

    I like everyone here seem to fall into multiple styles. I go from helicopter to hothouse to buddy in a matter of days and sometimes seconds. But the trick I’ve found is take time to step back and evaluate your parenting style… adjust where needed. As long as you make the effort, your child will appreciate it and hopefully be happy. And that’ all we really want for our children.