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Exploratory Paper September 10, 2009

The Many Styles of Parenting

Parents truly shape and mold a child’s life in several ways. Every parent has a different way of going about treating their children in various situations. Some are extremely strict, overbearing, and over protective, others may be more laid back. However the issue of how adults are supposed to raise their offspring is a very controversial topic. A lot of people take offense if someone were to tell them that they are raising their children wrong. People feel very strongly about their parenting style and do not want to take advice or criticism. Even though there are many different ways to raise kids, most of the styles are broken down into three general ways in which parents control their children. There is a strict style, a relaxed style, and a balanced style. The strict style puts a lot of restrictions on adolescents and these parents have almost all control of choices in their child’s life. Often times this parenting style leaves no room for the parents to express and share emotions with their children.  The relaxed style is quite the opposite, there are not really any boundaries set up for their children and these parents tend not to care so much about their children’s decisions. This style can end up with a lot more nurturing but not really any discipline. Then there is the balanced style, the balanced style offers discipline and some boundaries, and also nurturing and care. This style is a combination of both relaxed and strict parenting. Many believe that strict parenting leads to rebellious children later on in life. The three articles presented will give a deeper look into the topic of whether balanced parenting is the best parenting style.


Lori D. Harach is a part of the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta. She believes that a balanced parenting style is the best way to raise children. Harach establishes her ethos by allowing the reader to find that she is a part of a Human Ecology University. Harach conducted a study using twenty four mothers and fathers of different socioeconomic backgrounds, and interviewed each about their parent-child relationship. Harach focused on what she refers to as the two powers.


Based on her findings through these interviews, parents who overused authority and did not show any affection when it came to working out issues ultimately caused tensions between a child and their parent. Harach drew conclusions that continuing this pattern, leads to a child’s resentment toward their parents causing a child to do bad things in spite of their parents (Harach).Harach tells of these two powers which are known as horizontal and vertical powers. According to her research, horizontal relationships are like a peer to peer relationship; which consist of companionship, and intimacy. Vertical power is a parent to child relationship; this is where the parent retains all authority. (Harach) According to Harach, “having a good balance between these two powers by having a strong domain of authority, companionship, and intimacy leads to the most successful parenting style” (Harach).


Balancing between being authoritative and nurturing enhances ongoing communication as well as social relationships (Harach). In her interviews that Harach conducted, she found that parents “sharing relatively equal power in a conversation with their child enhanced communication and build a stronger relationship between parents and children” (Harach).  Harach claims that a parenting style that balances vertical and horizontal power is the best way to parent your child (Harach).


Laura Clark, an author who is accredited with writing many journal articles on parenting, believes that children do best if they have strict parents. Clark also establishes Gutman’s credibility by stating that she is a research director at the Institute’s Centre for Research On The Wider Benefits of Learning.


Clark believes that “children are more likely to become well-adjusted adults if their parents are firm disciplinarians” (Clark).  She goes on to talk about Dr Leslie Gutman, who is a research director at the Institute’s Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning; Gutman did studies to try find the best way to bring up children. Through this government funded study, dealing with parenting qualities, Gutman claims that “The notion of ‘good enough’ parenting may seem ideal in today’s hectic world, yet the reality is that ‘good enough’ parents will most likely produce ‘good enough’ children at best” (Gutman). According to Gutman, the best parenting is characterized by high expectations that a child will act with the maturity befitting their age. She states that supervision and discipline is also key. Through Gutman’s research she found that pushing your child to be above average will make them a better (Gutman). Based on scientific research she has found that “enforcing strict standards during the developmental stages of a child’s life helps their child turn into a more mature person later on in life” (Gutman). The ages where this should mostly be applies in are the pre-school, school, and adolescence age (Gutman).


Monique Alles-Jardel is a part of the University of Paris V Rene Descartes, France. She works on writing international journals of psychology. Jardel illustrates ethos from her background at the University of Paris V Rene Descartes, France. She believes that “granting more autonomy to a child and imposing less structure on their lives at home leads to a child having more stable friendships” (Jardel). She claims that there are several advantages for granting autonomy in a child’s life. One advantage being that autonomy is directly linked to being more accepted by your peers. She also states that too much restriction on a child can be detrimental to them later on in life. (Jardel)  Jardel  introduces studies she found from Ron Putallaz, who is accredited for writing books on child development. In an observational study Putallaz found that “parents who are more demanding and controlling during interactions, and who allowed their children to speak relatively little, had children who were less popular with school peers” (qtd in Jardel) According to Jardel, friendships with peers is directly linked with well being. Jardel discusses Sullivan’s Interpersonal Theory of psychiatry and claims that “friendships are important during childhood because they are linked with well being and, from early adolescence onward, provide experiences of intimacy that prepare an individual for romantic relationships later on in life” (Jardel).


Parents do truly shape and mold their child’s life in several ways. The different ways to raise children can be broken down into three general ways; there is a strict style, a relaxed style, and a balanced style. Harach believed that a balanced parenting style was the best parenting style, this offers discipline and nurturing. Clark believes that a strict parenting style is the best because it sets expectations for a child and makes them a better person. Jardel claims that a relaxed parenting style was the best; she believed that granting a child autonomy, will help them with their friendships and maturity. Based on all three of these articles I believe that a balanced parenting style is the best way to raise your children. It provides a comforting and trustful atmosphere for a child to be raised. The parent is strict when necessary but also acts as a friend to their child. This is the way I was raised as a kid so I believe it is the best way for an adolescent to be brought up.



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