This little quiz will help you figure out which parenting style you tend to use with your child. Please pick only one child for this exercise, preferably the one that you struggle with the most. Read the bold sentence and then pick which response you would likely use. Don’t try to figure out which is the “right” answer, just pick which one you know you would probably say. Add up your points as you go along.
You ask your child what the homework looks like for tonight and she says “I don’t know. I’ll deal with it later.”
- You immediately punish her for the implied back talk and also tell her she will do the homework now. (1 Point)
- You ask her : “When is later? I would like to know how much you have so I can plan the evening.” (2 Points)
- You say “Okay, dear. I know you will dear..” (3 Points)
Your son comes home with a D+ on a test. He has been getting poor grades for a while in this class.
- You ground him for the weekend and take away his electronics without having any conversation about what happened and simply tell him that he needs to focus. (1 Point)
- You talk with him about what happened and think about what punishment/response would be helpful in this situation. (2 Points)
- You tell him he is smart and you’re sure he will do better next time. (3 Points)
He then tells you that the teacher stinks and everybody got bad grades. Then says: “I wasn’t even going to tell you because I know you’d freak out.”
- You ground him for the weekend, take away the electronics, and make him clean his room for the disrespect. (1 Point)
- You talk with him about what happened. You decide to ignore his attempt at blaming the teacher and you, instead focus on how he felt about his preparation, and why he thinks he received a D+, and how he felt about the test. (2 Points)
- You ask him about the other students and his teacher, but do not directly discuss his preparation of feelings about the test.. (3 Points)
Now, add up your points to see which type of parenting style you tend to use:
3-4 points – You are in the Too Hard Zone. Rules are very important to you and strictness is a good thing. Although you might get short term compliance, the relationship is beginning to suffer and long term performance is not good.
5-7 points – You are in the Just Right Zone, or the sweet spot. You have found a way to stay in the middle during tough times and can stay focused even when your child is trying to use excuses.
8-9 points – You are probably in the Too Soft Zone. Nurturing is extremely important to you, and you hope that it will be enough. But you are worried that it isn’t because things aren’t getting better.
When you consider these three styles, it’s clear that the experts encourage the authoritative approach. Everything I read was clear that if I parented this way, my kids would be well adjusted, have good friends, behave well, get good grades, clean their rooms, and possibly win a Nobel Prize. Sounds good, right? I thought so. But in reality, the type of parent we are and the style which we most commonly emulate is a reflection of years of cultivation, both conscious and subconscious. To the point, there is generally a disconnect between the type of parent we think we are and what actually comes out during the times of stress—the times that really count.. The hardest part of this process is actually being that type of parent we need to be when the problems hit the fan, when we are tired, or frustrated, or overwhelmed.