Essay Preview: Parenting Styles
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One recent afternoon I went to visit my friend Jamie. Jamie is happily married and the parent of a 3 year old girl named Haley. While we were in the family room talking and trying to catch up, Haley was constantly underfoot and kept interrupting her mother while she was speaking. Jamie repeatedly told her not to interrupt and to wait until she was finished speaking. Even though they had just eaten lunch prior to my arrival, she started whining about being hungry. Jamie tried to reason with her, but in a sing song voice that wasnt the least bit firm. She continued to whine so Jamie gave in and told her she would give her a snack if she would then lay down and take her nap. Of course after eating her snack she wanted no part of taking a nap. Jamie finally got her in bed with the promise of a surprise after she woke up. Jamie returned to the living room utterly frustrated. She asked me about different parenting styles and what I thought would be most effective in her situation. The conversation that ensued is as follows:
Cathy: Well, Jamie, I am glad you asked. Having observed your interaction with Haley over the past couple of hours, I think that if you continue the way you are she is going to have some real problems when she grows up.
Jamie: I just dont want to be too strict with her — I want her to be able to express her feelings.
Cathy: That is all well and good, but if you want her to grow into a well-adjusted individual who other enjoy being around you need to start now. You know I am taking a course called Sociology of the Family, with a fantastic teacher, I might add, and will share with you what I have learned.
Jamie: At this point I am ready to listen to anything. It has really gotten bad lately and I have even avoided visiting friends at their home due to her behavior.
Cathy: Sociologists have divided parenting styles into three general categories: authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative. They all have pros and cons.
Jamie: Wow! It all sounds so formal and serious!
Cathy: It is Jamie. Now let me tell you about the styles. Authoritarian demands absolute obedience from children and often involves the use of physical punishment to control behavior. Of course there are variations that can go from one end of the spectrum to the other. Some parents, particularly those who live in certain environments (high poverty, high crime), believe that authoritarian measures are necessary to protect their children from danger.
Jamie: That doesnt sound like something I would be comfortable with. It really seems too severe.
Cathy: Jamie, it is not the only one. And keep in mind that what works for one wont necessarily work for another.
Jamie: Okay, next?
Cathy: Next we have the permissive style of parenting. Basically this involves giving children autonomy and freedom to express themselves and downplays conformity. Generally, permissive parents have