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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Authoritative Parenting: The Assertive Parent

Have you read the other parenting styles and felt that neither of them are you? Then you may be the authoritative parent. This parent is in the middle of the doormat and the dictator. They give their kids freedoms but also limits  and the limits are explained to the children in a way that they can understand and therefore are more inclined to follow.

The authoritative parent:
  • Runs their home like a democracy
  • believe that "children are treated with dignity and respect, even when [being disciplined]"*
  • Believe that "children are entitled to respectfully express their thoughts and feelings to their parents"*
  • Negotiates and compromises with children
Some examples of an authoritative parent are:

  • Before mom makes breakfast she asks Annie what she would like for breakfast, pancakes or french toast. Annie thinks about it and tells her mom that she would like to eat french toast. Mom then makes french toast for breakfast and Annie happily eats her breakfast.
  • Annie makes a mess in the living room and doesn't want to clean up the room. Mom tells Annie that she can either clean up her toys when she is done or mom will clean them up and Annie will not be able to play with them until Annie shows her mom that she can clean up after herself, it is her choice. Annie chooses to clean up the toys because she doesn't want to earn them back, Annie's mom then tells her thank you for making a good choice and cleaning up the toys.
  • Bedtime is approaching and Annie is happily playing with her toys. Mom tells Annie that she may play for five more minutes and then it will be time to get ready for bed. Annie says "o.k. mom." Mom comes back five minutes later and tells Annie that it has been five minutes and it is time to clean up toys and get ready for bed. Mom allows Annie to decide the order of the bedtime routine -pj's on first, then brush teeth, then read a story that Annie picks out and mom approves, then prayers and tuck into bed. Because Annie was involved in the decisions that led up to bedtime she is content to lay down and go to sleep. 
Some of you may have read those examples and thought - "yeah right, no kid makes that many good choices without a fight in a day" but I can guaranteed you that if you go to a home where the parents run the home as though it was a democracy then you will find children who obey their parents not because they are afraid but because they want to, or at least understand the need to be obedient even though they might not want to at the time.

Children who have authoritative parents learn:
  • That there are real reasons for doing things and they are capable of understanding those reasons
  • Their input is valuable
  • They are capable of reasoning and being reasonable
These children:

  • Are able to think for themselves
  • Become problem solvers
  • Are very sociable and have positive social relationships
  • Know how to cooperate with others
  • Know how to lead and follow when necessary
  • Have high self esteem
  • Are highly motivated and therefore become High Achievers
  • Are positive and happy kids
  • Are curious
If you haven't guessed by now this is the "amazing" parent. They understand that children are not slaves or masters and that parents are not slaves or masters either. Their home is a home where everyone has a voice and individuality is more important than conforming. The parents recognize that their children have their own likes/dislikes and strengths and weaknesses. They also realize that they are the parent and therefore they have a responsibility to provide for the child's needs, but they provide for those needs in a way that is individual to their own family. It is a home where respect is not demanded but is given to the children and then expected to be returned. They are willing to be the "bad guy" but do it in a way that the children understand the reason behind it. You will not hear the words, "because I said so" in this home. Children are welcome to question the adult's decisions and express their feelings towards them, but they understand that they will not always have it their way.

The key to this type of parenting is that the parents are assertive and they are teaching their children to be assertive.

If you want to know if this is the type of parent you are then ask yourself if you ever:

  • "involve your children in deciding who will do which family chores
  • give her the full responsibility of her homework, monitoring her just a little
  • show an active interest in her education by discussing her subjects with her regularly and attending school functions
  • involve her in the discipline process by talking with her about your expectations and the consequences for breaking agreements
  • letting him know what you like about him and encouraging him often
  • talking with him about topics - such as drug use, sexuality, and violence - in a calm and non-judgmental manner."*
Also if you find yourself saying to your kids:

"I know you're disappointed, but you can't go. Here's why . . ."
"Sure we can talk about it. What's your idea?"
"I know you can handle it. But if you need some help, just let me know."*

Often times I have friends tell me that this is the type of parent they are, but then as I watch them with their children it becomes very clear to me that while they might have an idea of becoming this type of parent they are still very much another parenting style. In fact, the majority of parents I personally know are not this parenting style but are more like the permissive parent or authoritarian parent. Sure they give their kids choices but the choices are not choices that the child would like, or they are not involving their children in decisions that directly affect their child's life but rather are giving them routines that the parent has decided is appropriate for their child.

Now that you know all three parenting styles I am very curious to know which one you think you are and why you feel that is you. 

The assertive or authoritative parent is the type of parent ALL parenting books strive to teach parents to be because the children who are raised in this manner grow up to become amazing adults, this is the parenting style that is used in my home and hopefully through your reading of this blog you will learn to use this parenting style in not only raising your children but in your marriage and work relationships!

*Quotes taken from the book: Active Parenting Now by Michael H. Popkin Parents Guide which you can buy here

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