Parenting can be one of the most wondrous experiences. On the other hand, it can also be one of our greatest challenges. Therefore, reviewing parenting styles and choosing to embrace one (or combining aspects of different styles) can provide some helpful guidance along our parenting journeys.
Parenting Styles: Revolutionary Ideas for Improved Parent-Child Relationships
Point of View
I’m not a psychologist, physician, or teacher. Most simply, I am a parent who has explored different parenting styles myself in seeking an approach that best matched my values and life philosophies.
In doing so, here is what I have found to be most compelling..
A Brief Review of Traditional Parenting Styles
Traditionally, and what’s generally taught in developmental psychology classes, we have four most widely recognized parenting styles:
- Authoritative (providing structure and boundaries; encouraging children to think for themselves and consider the reasons for rules and boundaries)
- Neglectful or Uninvolved (offering little nurturing or emotional support; little or no structure nor enforcing standards of conduct)
- Permissive (warm and loving, yet reluctant to offer structure or create and enforce boundaries)
- Authoritarian (expecting children to obey unilaterally; using punishment or a threat of punishment to gain control)
As a result, most parents throughout our recent history have adopted one or a combination of these styles.
Do These Work?
Notice the prevalence of obesity, depression, ADHD, violence, and drug use among children. In the same vein, it’s imperative for us to consider our roles as parents – raising our children within these statistics.
According to Dr. Shefali Tsabary (clinical psychologist and author of books: Conscious Parenting; Out of Control; and, The Awakened Family), from her presentation on TEDx Talk,
“1 in 5 children in America show signs of a mental health disorder.” “662,000 children in the U.S. in foster care;” and, “274% global increase in use of ADHD drugs to kids.”
Likewise, she also explains that, while recognizing many other societal influences, ultimately…
WE, as parents, are one of (if not THE) greatest influences in our child’s life.
Certainly, these astounding statistics beg the question: Do traditional parenting styles, in today’s society, work in guiding our children along a path to living healthy happy lives? And, if not, what are the alternatives?
In fact, some less common – though successful – parenting styles have blossomed in recent decades. Yet, in many cases, disappointingly, these are not as widely recognized. Consequently, nor are they taught in mainstream university psychology classes.
So, by taking a step back from more traditional parenting approaches and learning some new ways of relating to our children, we can achieve drastically improved results in our parent-child relationships.
Moreover, for those parents who are open to a more thoughtful, conscientious, and “conscious” approach to parenting, consider these alternative philosophies:
Revolutionary Parenting Styles Worth Exploring
The Conscious Parenting approach was developed by clinical psychologist Dr. Shefali Tsabary and is an eye-opening approach to parenting, which really seems to turn traditional parenting models upside-down (in a most positive way).
According to the description of her book by the same title (Conscious Parenting), “Children serve as mirrors of their parents’ forgotten self.” Those willing to look in the mirror have an opportunity to establish a relationship with their own inner state of wholeness.
Once they find their way back to their essence, parents enter into communion with their children. Shifting away from the traditional parent-to-child ‘know it all’ approach and more towards a mutual parent-with-child relationship.
The pillars of the parental ego crumble as the parents awaken to the ability of their children to transport them into a state of presence.”
Here’s a link to her presentation for the TEDx Talk series for greater insight.
“When you parent, it’s crucial you realize you aren’t raising a ‘mini me,’ but a spirit throbbing with its own signature.” – Dr. Shefali Tsabary
The Montessori Method of parenting (and educating) was founded by Maria Montessori, Italian physician and educator. The primary basic principle is: “Follow the child.”
So in essence, by “following the child,” parents’ roles become that of observers and guides rather than teachers or disciplinarians.
Another guiding principle is allowing extended periods of time for hands-on learning and exploring both indoor and outdoor environments freely (as long as exploring in a safe and positive manner).
Also, Montessori encourages practical life and sensory experiences; providing child-size tools whenever possible. Parents should model behavior rather than “teach” it.
Overall, this approach to parenting is based on respecting young children as independent and capable learners. It focuses on providing home and classroom environments in which children are free to explore and learn with as little adult intervention as possible.
“We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.” – Maria Montessori
RIE stands for “Resources for Infant Educarers,” a respectful approach to parenting infants and toddlers, founded by Magda Gerber.
The basis of RIE is respect for infants and toddlers as individuals and centers greatly around caregiving times (diapering, feeding, etc.) as times for bonding and connection. Moreover, caregiving times are not to be viewed as merely for “maintenance.”
Additionally, this approach frowns upon using highchairs, walkers, infant swings, pacifiers, even store-bought toys. Anything designed to artificially sooth a child, keep them distracted, or “contained.”
According to Gerber, adults designed these items for their own convenience. And, she felt they did not add value to an infant’s natural exploration and learning.
In essence, the RIE philosophy encourages respect and independence of infants and toddlers. Ideally, with as little interference from parents as possible in a safe manner.
And, in practicing this parenting style, infants and toddlers are allowed more exploration, natural expression, and independent learning as innate abilities rather than “taught” activities.
“Be careful what you teach. It might interfere with what they are learning.”- Magda Gerber
(If you’re interested in learning more, you can use the links throughout this article as a springboard for your own exploration.)
In sum, ultimately, the best parenting style and philosophy will be one (or a combination) that best matches your individual values and your own approach to life and healthy relationships.