A parent should have a firm grasp of his own parenting style. He should know how he wants to parent. Because more than anything, kids respond to self-confident parenting. What exactly does that mean?
It means that as long as a parent remains true to his own vision of parenting, the kids will come out fine. Think of the old adage, “Know thyself.” The ancient Greek aphorism could well be applied to parents in search of a signature style.
Years ago, I read an intriguing article about parenting styles. A research trial was cited in which half the parents were strict and half were lenient. The kids came out about the same no matter which style the parents had adopted as their own. In other words, strict or lenient, it made no difference. Both are fine ways of parenting, as long as parents remain consistent.
Never Really Sure
Problems began, however, when parents tried out different parenting methods because they felt unsure of themselves. Rather than sticking to one parenting style or another, they bent to advice from one parent or parenting expert or another, never really sure they were doing the right thing. The result of this sort of inconsistent parenting led to children with all sorts of issues: issues with school work, delinquency, drug abuse, and mental health issues.
The moral of the story? A consistent parenting style leads to emotionally healthy, emotionally stable children.
It makes sense if you think about it. If the parents are insecure about their parenting skills, their children are bound to pick up on that and feel, well, insecure. Insecurity causes anxiety, confusion, poor self-esteem, and in general a negative outlook. Kids want predictability. They don’t want to have to guess when dinner will be on the table or whether they can stay up only until 10:30 or as long as they want.
Parenting Styles Consistency
Which takes us back to “Know thyself.” Knowing yourself is the key to being a consistent parent. If flexibility is your style, be that kind of parent. Be open to discussion about bedtime. Feel free to allow kids some freedom in terms of their behavior at table if you’re that kind of parent.
If bad manners at table, on the other hand, really bug you, don’t let chewing with an open mouth go unremarked because you’re trying to be a different kind of parent than you really are. If you leave it be you run the risk of giving your child a confusing double message. It’s okay, on the other hand, to realize that your child needs a softer touch on occasion. As long as you’re not trying to be someone you’re not.
I thought of this today when a friend posted a personality test online, the 16 personalities test. This test is based on the premise that there are 16 personalities comprised of various combinations of the following characteristics:
- Extraverted (E)
- Introverted (I)
- Intuitive (N)
- Sensing (S)
- Thinking (T)
- Feeling (F)
- Judging (J)
- Prospecting (P)
Online tests are often a silly waste of time. But this one proved surprisingly accurate, perhaps because instead of the usual ten or fifteen questions, this test asks 60 questions and takes some 15 minutes to complete. I came out as an IFSJ personality or introverted, feeling, sensing, and judging.
I was impressed with my results. Taking the test and reading the interpretation of my results gave me insight into my personality as a parent and in general. Take the test here and tell us what you learned about yourself. Did the results accurately reflect your personality?