Knowing your parenting style just might help you become a better parent.
Take a quiz by Studio 5 Contributor and parenting author, Maggie Stevens.
We all love our kids beyond measure, but there are vast differences when it
comes to deciding what our kids should do and how they should behave. We
all have a certain style in the way we talk to our children, how we discuss
family rules, our expectations, what we will tolerate and how we discipline.
Understanding these parenting styles, will hopefully help to improve your
I like to visualize the 5 major types on a scale which adapts as our children
grow and we learn. It changes as our children go from toddler to teen. We
can vacillate between styles, but we usually gravitate to one side or the other.
Let me give you a brief explanation of each style beginning with the far left
and far right:
Boot Camp/Authoritative: You control every aspect of your child’s
over all decision making and enforcing a rigid structure on your child. When
it comes to setting rules and expectations with your kids, you’re the grownup
and you know what’s best. And since this is the case, it’s not really necessary
to always explain the logic or rationale behind your rules and expectations.
You are anxious and afraid that if you don’t impose control, your child won’t
get it right on his own. To be fair, you do your best to apply your standards
equally to each child. You believe it is important for parents to make
decisions for their kids and that, generally, rules and expectations shouldn’t
be open to discussion. You are an optimizer, making life as perfect as
possible for your child.
Example: Red Foreman from That 70″s show
Firm but Fair: You believe it’s important to set expectations for
You are direct and let your children know what is expected of them. In
general, you take an assertive approach to discipline. At the same time, you
believe that children should be allowed some room to be free and explore;
you’re happy for your kids to experiment and take chances (within reason), as
long as they respect and obey their parents.
Example: Claire Dunphy
Slacker or Push Over: Anything goes! You mostly use a hands-off
style. While you give your child a lot of independence, you probably don’t feel
very connected to her. You may feel too busy or overwhelmed with other
obligations to be very involved in your child’s life. You bolt when the school
volunteer list is handed out. Your children may not develop strong social
skills because you prefer not to allow friends to play at your house. Parenting
overwhelms you or you may believe your child will learn most of his lessons
from outside the home. You do not enjoy conflict with your child, so you do
not discipline or set any rules for your child. Your child may not learn how to
work through conflict and when things get difficult in life, he may just ignore
it. Your child’s physical safety is a concern when your child has little or no
Example: Morticia and Gomez Addams from The Addams
Permissive or Passive: You mostly use a lenient parenting style.
communicate well with your teen, you value your close relationship with your
teen and may be reluctant to set limits or discipline. You might feel
frustrated at times trying to get your teen to obey rules, and fearful that you
will lose his love if you try to set limits. Many time you allow freedom of
thought and expression without stating your own beliefs. This at times leads
to frustration, arguments or empty threats because your child is confused
without clear too much freedom. You provide a lot of love, warmth and open
Example: Al and Peggy Bundy from Married With
The Middle Ground: The Middle Ground is where love, discipline
intersect. This type of parent acts as a teacher and guidance counselor in a
child’s life. You offer guidance, not control. You understand the real life
developmental stage of a child. You are warm and involved, but firm and
consistent in setting and enforcing limits. Middle Ground parents have
relationships with their teens that include trust, mutual respect, and strong
and open communication. You encourage and give your teenagers the
freedom to express their own ideas, beliefs and individuality.
Middle Ground parenting works because it does three things. First, your
warmth, love and involvement make your teen more open to your influence.
Second, by providing structure through limits and consequences, your teen
develops the ability to regulate his behavior and make good decisions. And
third, the open, two-way communication in your relationship helps your teen
develop the thinking and social skills needed to succeed outside the family. It
takes a lot of effort to be a Middle Ground parent, especially when a parent is
exhausted. But the work is worth it.
Example: Mike and Carol Brady
What’s Your Parenting Style Quiz
1. Your baby drops his pacifier at Lagoon? You..
a. No problem, you always carry pacifier wipes.
b. Rinse it off when you find a drinking fountain
c. Who has time to wash off a pacifier??
2. You and your five-year-old daughter are having a play date at a
house. When asked what she wants for lunch, your shy daughter lowers her
head and refuses to answer. What do you do?
a. Command her to answer the question immediately, or she is going home.
b. Squatting down to your daughter’s eye level, you talk her through the
situation, helping her answer the question on her own.
c. Speak for your daughter, telling the host what she likes and explaining
that she is just shy.
3. It’s a cold winter day and your three-year-old son refuses to wear a
What is your solution?
a. Yell at him to stop whining while you force his coat on.
b. Sit down with your son and explain why it is necessary to dress warm in
cold weather. Involve him in the decision.
c. Shrug your shoulders and let him run out the door in whatever he wants.
4. Your four-year-old son refuses to go to bed. How do you react?
a. Threaten to lock him in his room if he doesn’t go to bed immediately.
b. Discuss with him why it is important to get enough sleep. Create a
bedtime schedule that give him comfort and routine. Read a story of his
choice and snuggle together until he is relaxed and ready to sleep.
c. Let him fall asleep in front of the television.
5. You get a call from your son’s teacher who explains that your son has
carved a hole in the wall and blamed another student for what he’s done.
What do you do?
a. You yell and send your son to his room, grounding him without asking for
his side of the story
b. Begin by patiently discussing the problem and his reasons for doing it.
Help him to repair the damage or earn money to pay to have it fixed. Help
him work through why he shouldn’t blame other kids and acknowledge it is
difficult but important to admit when he has done something wrong. Discuss
how he would like to apologize and then guide him through it.
Approach your son and when he refused so talk, you throw your hands in the
air and tell him he can do what he wants since it probably wasn’t his fault
If your answers were mostly B you are a Middle Ground Parent.
Congratulations! Studies show that adolescents raised by Middle Ground
parents do better in school, report less depression and anxiety, have higher
self-esteem and self-reliance and are less likely to engage in all types of
risky problem behavior.
If most of your answers were A, you may be more of a drill sergeant than a
parent. Change your belief that children should conform to your commands.
Try to tone down the control and dial up the warmth and love.
If most of your answers were C, while your free-wheeling carefree attitude is
to be admired, it may serve your children better to have more structure in
their lives. Also, give your child a large dose of your undivided attention.
In closing, one-size parenting doesn’t fit all. Every child is unique and some
may need more rules and discipline than others. Circumstances change with
teens all the time. There may be new risks, signs of trouble, or other reasons
to have more rules, such as a less safe neighborhood. It’s up to you to
understand what is best for your child.
Maggie Stevens is the author of “Parent Fix”.