Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Education Psycology 101: Parenting Styles

As I've mentioned before, I have a BME.  Part of being an education major is having to take a lot of psychology courses.  I took three:  Psychology 101, which I think is a core class everyone has to take, Educational psychology, which was for all education majors, and Adolescent psychology, which was psychological study specifically geared toward those who were working in junior high and high school areas.  Because I was a band-direction-in-training I didn't have to take elementary or early childhood psychology.  But it doesn't really matter because for the most part, educational psychology is basic and the key to parenting.

Most parenting books don't really go a whole lot into education psychology or give an over view.  They touch on certain psychologists and the field itself to influence their point, but they don't discuss any of it's history or anything relevant to parents.  It's mostly all about here is our philosophy and here are some examples.  This makes it difficult for parents to discern what's a good philosophy.  I'll save that for another post.  For now, let's just discuss the basics.

I also want to point out that education psychology is not an exact science.  As my husband said, it's a psuedo-science.  There are studies and evidence is collected but it's more subjective than other sciences.  In this case, categorizing parenting styles is subjective and objective.  One can observe how a person parents, but how to categorize whole groups of parents is subjective.

Now this is not something I've seen in a text book exactly but I believe that there is a difference between Parenting styles and Parenting philosophies.  To me a parenting style is broken down into three basic groups (outside of neglect and abuse which is a parenting style in clinical terms but one that is not advocated by anyone).  We'll discuss them momentarily.  This is text book information.  Basically they are over arching categories.  A parenting philosophy, which isn't really outlined in a text book, is a more restrictive way to live out a parenting style.  So let's get into what I mean exactly. 

Parenting Styles:
Indulgent or Permissive- basically allowing a child to do whatever they want to.  They respond to their child's needs, but do not make demands or has few expectations that their child will follow rules or guidelines.  They are the doting parents who express love to their children. 

Authoritarian- basically telling a child exactly what to do.  Authoritarian parents demand that their children obey their authority without giving the children the ability to respond.  Authoritarian parents rely heavily on punitive discipline and tend to exercise a great deal of spanking.

Now I want to say before mentioning the next style that neither permissive parenting or authoritarian parenting styles are considered to be forms of abuse or fall under the categories of abuse and neglect.  As I mentioned that is a style of parenting unto itself.  Permissive parents and authoritarian parents will not wind up having their children taken away from them by CPS.  Both parenting styles fall perfectly within the realm of what is acceptable or normal.  I will give examples of each type, but I want to make it clear before anyone starts saying that either parenting style is abuse that clinically it's not considered abuse.

Authoritative (don't get it confused with authoritarian they look similar)- is a style that is somewhere in between.  Basically a child's needs are met and responded to.  Children have the ability and are expected to learn how to deal with their emotions constructively  And at the same time, there is a demand to follow rules as well as restrictions.  Authoritative parenting is democratic, child-centered, and encourages independence appropriate to age level.

Now most education psychologists look at the pros and cons of these three parenting styles.  They also look at the empirical evidence.  Evidence shows this:  most parents do not fall squarely into a particular parenting style.  They tend to lean towards one more than the other, but show different aspects of each.  Also the most recommended parenting style is authoritative.  Children who grow up in authoritative households tend to not drink or get into trouble.  I will talk a little bit about how this is a controversial statement when I discuss how to chose a parenting philosophy since that brings up the whole nurture versus nature debate. 

Parenting Philosophies
I think are different than parenting styles from a clinical view point.  Wikipedia lists them as alternative parenting styles, but I think that they are more like philosophies because it doesn't explain how a person parents as much as it explains why a person parents.  For example, a person who follows the Pearl's parenting philosophy really is just using an authoritarian if not abusive parenting style (depending on what degree they follow the Pearl's book).  They do so because they typically are Christian and they follow the Pearl's Biblical interpretation.  In other words, they are authoritarian parents (how they parent) who use the Pearl's philosophy (which explains why they are authoritarian).  Does that make sense?

Sorry if I seem a little loopy.  It's late.  I feel like an elephant and my son has had the runs all day.  It's not going to be my most grammatically correct post ever.

So here is a list of parenting philosophies:
Gentle Discipline
Grace-based Discipline
Attachment Parenting
Strict Parenting
Concerting Cultivation
Pearl's Philosphies
Ezzo's Philosphies
Dr. Spock
Dr. Brazelton
Dr. Harvey Karp

Well, you get the idea.  Everyone has a parenting philosophy that somehow fits into the three parenting styles in some shape or form.  They include elements of each and tend to lean to one side or the other.  An example of permissive parenting might be emotional coaching (although I'm not all that familiar with all aspects of this parenting philosophy).  An example of authoritarian parenting would be the Pearl's or the Ezzo's.  Authoritative parenting would be Dr. Brazelton or Concerting Cultivation.

So this is my parenting style:  authoritarian (and I'm sure my husband would add with a hint of permissiveness) and my parenting philosophy is really a combination of attachment parenting, gentle discipline, and grace-based parenting.  Throw in a dash of Dr. Harvey Karp and Dr. Ferber and you've pegged me.  Because all the philosophies are similar and tend to fall into one of the parenting styles, then it's easy to see why a person can say they follow a number of different parenting philosophies.

So soon, I hope, we'll discuss how to pick a parenting philosophy and discuss the nurture versus nature debate.  I will give you just a taste by saying people tend to blame the parent's choice in parenting style and thus look down on a parent if their child "goes bad" or frown on certain parenting philosophies.  The problem with this is that the forget that there's a child involved who has a mind of his/her own.  And therefore, I will discuss why this type of thinking (us versus them, aka my parenting philosophy kicks your parenting philosophy's butt any day of the week) because it's just plain destructive.

Okay, night!

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