Studies continue to investigate the link between parenting style and parent-child connectedness. The world is a busy place, and parents often struggle with carving out family time in the midst of a busy schedule. How much effect does a particular style of parenting have on the relationship between parents and their children?
Understanding Parenting Style and Parent-Child Connectedness
In order to unravel the relationship between parenting style and parent-child connectedness, the various types of parenting styles must be evaluated in tandem with how connected the parents and children are as a function of parenting style in each family. Most parents subscribe to a particular type of parenting style, and this style preference influences the connection they have with their children.
Parents who are uninvolved really aren't clued in to what their child is feeling or thinking. These parents don't attend ball games, school productions, parent-teacher appointments or other events related to their child. As a result, the child may seek out other adults who show more interest in his life. The child may never feel connected to his parent, and as he grows, he moves farther away from the "family unit."
Authoritarian parents often have extremely high expectations of their kids. These parents monitor everything that their child does, from checking his grades frequently to listening in on phone conversations or otherwise tuning in in private contexts. If the child doesn't perform or behave as expected, authoritarian parents often resort to some form of punishment. As a result, children of authoritarian parents may turn to someone who makes them feel more loved and accepted, and a close relationship and feeling of connectedness with their parents is often difficult, and sometimes even impossible, to achieve.
While some parents are often accused of being too involved in their children's lives, permissive parents are often seen as too lax in their parenting style. These parents often try to be their child's friend instead of his parent. They parent in this manner out of a mistaken belief that if they allow their child to do just about anything he wants, then they'll have a stronger connection with that child simply because they are "cool" parents. This style of parenting typically backfires as kids get older; children of permissive parents often end up feeling that their parents let them do anything simply because they just don't care or don't have the time to monitor them. Parent-child connectedness can vary widely with this parenting style. At some moments, and during some periods of the child's life, the parent and child may have a very close relationship; at other points in time, the connection can be very strained.
According to an article entitled "The Protective Effects of Good Parenting on Adolescents" published in the August 2005 issue of Current Opinion in Pediatrics, the authoritative style of parenting is a good choice of parenting style, and parent-child connectedness is often high when caregivers ascribe to this style of parenting. The authoritative style encourages adults to be actively involved in their child's lives from birth through adolescence, which relies heavily on communication. Authoritative parents talk to their children about many aspects of their lives, including those topics which aren't always pleasant, such as drug use and sexual behavior. While these hands-on parents are actively involved and aware of what their children are doing throughout the day and night, they don't hover, instead allowing their children to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. Each mistake children make, however, becomes a "teachable moment" as parents talk to them about the choices and decisions they have made. This high level of communication and contact often leads to very connected kids and parents.
You may recognize aspects of your parenting style in any of the above types of parenting. If you feel that you really aren't establishing a positive connection with your child, consider talking to a professional or taking a parenting class. Parenting a child is a never-ending process until he or she reaches adulthood; do your best to establish a relationship that will teach and support your child through his formative years, and hopefully in doing so you will establish a strong connection with him.