Parents are the most important influence in children's lives. The relationships we have with our children, the values we give them and the example we set have more impact than things like how much money we have or where we live.
While there are many different parenting styles, children benefit when parents are warm and loving and provide clear guidance and support. Understanding more about parenting styles and how they affect children can help you work out the kind of parent you want to be.
Raising children can bring great joy as you watch them grow and develop and become their own unique person. There can be challenges too and most families find that parenting is a journey of ups and downs. It can help to remember that:
Most parents learn about parenting 'on the job' and grow into their role with experience. It is important to believe in yourself and have confidence in your parenting.
Our ideas about parenting come from things such as how we were brought up, our life experiences, our culture and religion and what we have read or seen others do. You may have had positive experiences as a child and want to do things the same way your parents did, or you might want to do things differently.
Our parenting is also influenced by our values, whether we realise it or not. We might do things a certain way because of our values - the deepest desires about life that drive us. You might:
You might decide that in your family it is important to:
Parenting will be easier if you work with your child's other parent, whether you live together or not. Talk about what is important to you both and for your family. As time goes on you can think about whether your parenting matches your values. If you value respect for others and then yell at your children or each other, you might ask whether you are living by your values.
Children benefit when parents work together in their parenting.
Studies show that there are 4 broad parenting styles. Parents may use a mix of these but tend to use one the most. The styles and what they mean for children are discussed below.
Children raised this way may be quite obedient. They know the rules but may have lower self-worth and happiness and may become defiant or aggressive. They may depend on others to make decisions and be less likely to take on responsibilities or solve problems. Parents can have high expectations of children's learning but may not provide the support children need.
Children may grow up feeling loved but insecure due to the lack of boundaries. They don't learn appropriate behaviour and to be responsible. They may lack self-discipline, have poor social skills and be too self-involved. Parents may not provide the structure and focus that children need to do well at school.
Children who grow up with disengaged parents are less likely to feel loved and can miss out on the guidance and support they need. They may be socially withdrawn, lack social skills and have problem behaviour. They can feel anxious and stressed from the lack of support. Parents may not have high expectations of their children achieving or even attending school.
Children who grow up with supportive parents are likely to be more emotionally mature, have better social skills and self-confidence and feel greater happiness and wellbeing. They are supported to do well at school and encouraged to try their best and achieve.
Supportive parenting works best for children. Parents are warm and loving and provide clear guidance and support.
When reflecting on your parenting and how much you use the supportive style, you could ask yourself:
These are some of the ways you can use the supportive parenting style.
Children benefit from your full attention. Don't let TVs, phones or other electronic devices get in the way.
Research shows that having meals together as a family makes children and teenagers happier and relationships stronger. Turn off the TV, phones and other devices.
When children feel understood they are more likely to listen to your guidance.
Children benefit when they have a network of trusted adults to talk to. For example, aunties, uncles, friends or community, sports or activity leaders. Having mentors in their life can broaden children's horizons.