Parents undoubtedly have a huge impact on their teens’ lives, but do their approaches to parenting matter, too?
Let’s look at two scenarios:
Student #1 comes home from school—their parent is sitting on the couch watching television, not bothering to acknowledge their child. The child has to take care of themselves and the parent.
Student #2 comes home from school—their parent greets them with warmth, asks how their day went and prepares food for them.
The two students raised by different parenting styles grow to have contrasting mindsets towards life. In fact, many experts state that parenting styles have an influence on teens’ academic success, their motivation, work ethic and overall resilience towards obstacles in life.
Each style of parenting approaches the needs of children differently. Skills children must develop that are necessary in life, such as the ability to build healthy relationships or have correct motivators to achieve a goal can be determined by how different parents approach their children and teach these skills to them.
This is especially true during the teenage years when many children are developing their idea of self-worth, self-image and personality, and seek guidance and validation from their parents during this process. While some elements in certain parenting styles can help teens develop into confident, strong young adults, other choices can have detrimental effects. This is why it’s important to have knowledge on each style and understand the impact certain rules or priorities have on teens long-term.
Most researchers agree there are four main parenting styles:
We will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each style according to research, while also considering the social, economic and cultural factors that shape them. In addition, we interviewed teachers and administrators at AISB who have children attending the school to gain their unique perspectives.
Authoritarian parents are often described as strict or bossy. According to a medically-reviewed article published by Insider, “They have high expectations for their kids’ behavior, but they typically don’t offer much in the way of warmth and connection. Often, they may not acknowledge their kids’ experiences and emotions, either.”
As punishment, authoritarian parents ban or take away things from their children. This method can influence children to be sneaky since they are afraid of their parents and lack of communication between the parent and child can make the child confused on whether or not they’ll be punished for something.
Taking things away as punishment shapes children to be extrinsically motivated rather than intrinsically motivated. Intrinsic motivation is when a person does something because they truly have the motivation to do so, whereas extrinsic motivation is when they feel forced to do something to avoid punishment, or to receive a reward. It is important to teach children to be intrinsically motivated so they can accomplish goals in a healthy and engaged way.
This also applies to academics, as many teens struggle to find motivation to study.
Motivation is really the key to building habits around studying and being prepared for tests.Learning Support teacher Sean Whitney
For ways that parents can help their children be intrinsically motivated, Whitney says, “You have to kind of keep an eye on making things positive, engaging and exciting; and not always being punitive and kind of punishing.”
AISB Spanish teacher Malina Nedelcu elaborated on how to make studying and school less intimidating, saying, “If the parent provides the right tools and opportunities, the child will soon become interested in learning for the sake of learning. So, later on, as a teen, the child won’t need external motivation to study or complete homework.”
Aside from influencing extrinsic motivation, authoritarian parenting has other negative and long-term effects on teenagers; the teenagers may not build a close or trusting relationship with their guardians because there’s little communication or healthy criticism. This can cause children to lack skills such as controlling their emotions or problem-solving, which are necessary for a high quality of life.
According to a study, children of authoritarian parents have a higher chance of experiencing depression, substance use and low self-esteem. These children also have a higher rate of aggression, which may be modeled off their parents.
Constantly being criticized by parents while receiving no affection is undoubtedly harmful to a child’s health. However, it’s also important to draw a line between constant high expectations of success and a child’s well-being.
AISB Director Peter Welch says, “A person is not their grades, not their achievement; they’re not their place of university; they’re not their diploma score. People have equal value if they are terrible at school or good at school. And a parent needs to love that person. School is a funny game, some people are good at it, some people are not. But a parent’s love of a child should not be based on if they’re good or bad at school.”
AISB Director Peter Welch with his wife Suzanne Shortt (submitted photo)
Above all, we must keep in mind that authoritarian parenting is a style that is usually learnt through culture and family and being an authoritarian parent doesn’t equal being ‘cruel’ or ‘heartless.’ And while it has its downsides, authoritarian parenting helps children learn to take responsibility and work hard to achieve their goals.
Permissive parenting is the polar opposite of authoritarian parenting. There is a heavier emphasis on affection rather than obedience and rules. While this style helps establish a healthy relationship between a child and a guardian, it prevents the child from learning self-control.
Insider reports, “Permissive parents show kids plenty of love and warmth, but they don’t set or enforce many rules.” This style might sound ideal to teens, but it’s been proven to have many detrimental effects.
Children raised by this style may struggle with making decisions and dealing with negative emotions. A study found that children of permissive parents are more likely to engage in substance use.
The positives of this style, the study reports, include how it helps children become independent and confident, and have good self-esteem and social skills.
Psychologists state that authoritative parenting is the best style. This is because of the perfect balance it maintains between discipline and affection.
Dr. Francyne Zelster describes authoritative parenting as “supportive and often in tune with their children’s needs. They guide their kids through open and honest discussions to teach values and reasoning. Like authoritarian parents, they set limits and enforce standards. But unlike authoritarian parents, they’re much more nurturing.”
A study found that authoritative parenting helps teens be more successful academically. This style also helps improve kids’ confidence, social skills and problem-solving skills. Authoritative parents raise independent and strong children since they teach them how to deal with conflict and difficult situations.
As an authoritative parent, Nedelcu says, “I noticed that from the outside, to a person coming from a western culture, I may seem like an overprotective mom. I understand why. But, for me, the child’s independence has to come naturally. By preventing the feeling of being pushed away, neglected and forced to grow up, when the child is ready to ‘cut the cord,’ he or she will do it instinctively.”
AISB Spanish teacher Malina Nedelcu with her daughter. (Submitted photo)
Neglectful parenting, also known as uninvolved parenting, is when a guardian doesn’t put care into their child’s needs except for the fundamental ones. The popular health information website Healthline states, “These children receive little guidance, discipline, and nurturing from their parents. And oftentimes kids are left to raise themselves and make decisions — big and small — on their own.”
Neglectful parenting isn’t always intentional. It may be due to a parent being overwhelmed by problems with work or mental health.
Similar to permissive parents, neglectful parents don’t set rules or boundaries. However, neglectful parents don’t provide the care and affection that permissive parents do. Children of neglectful parents may have lower social skills because of insufficient communication with their parents.
Healthline also reports that a “lack of affection and attention at a young age can lead to low self-esteem or emotional neediness in other relationships.” This suggests that in order to have good relationships with others as well as confidence in themselves, children must receive care and attention from their parents.
Parenting Teens: A Stressful Balance
Many teens find themselves stressed under the pressure of achieving academic success. A parent’s reaction and perspective towards their child’s grades certainly has an impact on how they’re able to navigate the problems such as stress and lack of motivation.
AISB Math teacher Oksana Williams described an effective way to reduce teens’ stress and help them be more motivated and healthy is to let them destress on their own terms. “For example,” Williams says, “my child likes to play sports. I’ll let him go for a little bit because he needs to disconnect from this negative energy and just go and play basketball, play football, play piano, something that you enjoy. For one, two days, how long it takes for you to get back.” She adds, “Our brain is going crazy in the stressed time. But when the situation is relaxed, we think differently. We see it in different colors. Before, it’s only black and white, when the time passes it’s like, ‘Okay, that’s not actually that bad as I saw it and it’s nothing that I cannot fix.'”
To the parents reading still in need of some guidance, here is Humanities teacher Jacqueline Whitney’s advice:
Be human. Show them how to love and how to grieve. Life is a series of peaks and valleys. Ride the highs, learn from the lows, and celebrate the victories.Jacqueline Whitney
We hope this article helped highlight the significance of parenting styles and how they shape teens as they move into adulthood. Keep in mind that parenting styles are heavily influenced by culture and family backgrounds, and the purpose of this article is to solely explain the impact of each style and what is best in terms of a child’s well-being.
Which style do you think is ideal to raise a teen that is resilient, healthy, and happy? Let us know in the comments!