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PARENTING STYLES. PARENTING STYLES. What influences a parent’s choice of parenting style?. 99% of all parents want to be good parents, and avoid doing what they consider to be a bad parent. Regardless of their parenting abilities, they love their child. The way their parents raised them.

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What influences a parent’s choice of parenting style?

99% of all parents want to be good parents, and avoid doing what they consider to be a bad parent. Regardless of their parenting abilities, they love their child.

  • The way their parents raised them.
  • The family structure, whether it’s a nuclear family, step-family, single-parent family, extended family, one or both parents work outside the home, etc.
  • Ethnic background
  • Individual parenting skills and knowledge

All parents incorporate both love and limits in their style of parenting, with the balance of love and limits determining a particular style. There are 4 parenting styles, and most parents use some combination of the 4. Each style has strengths and/or weaknesses, but only the authoritative parenting style combines both high love and high limits. It is considered the best style in today’s society.



Low love and high limits.

Giving orders

Authoritarian parents value obedience, structure, and respect. And they believe in a family hierarchy, with dad usually at the top, mom next in line, and children last.They use external control to teach right from wrong, such as spanking, and are quick to act on a discipline problem. Children in these families would not describe the relationship with their parents as close, warm, and loving.

The underlying assumption in this style is that “parents know best”.

The parents make the rules, and the children obey them without question or negotiation.

If the young child asks “why should I?”, the parent responds “because I said so” (often a legitimate answer).

This is the most traditional parenting style historically, and is based on the use of power.

The 1950’s sitcom called “Leave It To Beaver” showed a perfect family scenario operating under an authoritarian parenting style. The children were eager to please the parents, and there were few displays of affection for the children.



High Love and Low Limits.

Dr. Benjamin Spock was a leading child care authority of the late 1940’s -80’s. He encouraged a fairly permissive parenting style, excusing all manners of misbehavior in children as somehow perfectly normal. In his later years, he expressed misgivings about some of the advice he had given.

Giving in

Parents have difficulty setting firm limits and are inconsistent.

It works pretty well in some cases because children generally want to please their parents.

Parents view themselves as their children’s friend, and have concerns that their children will not like them if they set too many rules.

Over time, children often become selfish, self-centered, and manipulative to get their own way…because they know they can.

Parents take a "hands-off" approach, allowing children to learn from the consequences of their actions.

Permissive parents often will eventually become bitter and resentful of their children. They place their children’s needs above their own, and tire of the lack of respect or appreciation for all they do. The children tend to have troubles with responsibility, relationships, and understanding the rights of others.



Sometimes called an indifferent parenting style due to it’s lack of emotional involvement and supervision of the child.

Generally considered as uncaring and inadequate to meet the needs of children.

These parents usually do not consider themselves to be bad parents, but are operating under a mistaken set of beliefs about what a good parent does. Their attempts to do what they think needs to be done to raise their children ends up being neglectful or abusive.

They might be indifferent, distant, unengaged, non-communicative, self-absorbed, unstructured, detached, and sometimes cruel.

Low Love and Low Limits

Giving up

Many individuals or couples are simply not prepared for the demands of good parenting. Children take time, money, energy, effort, and good parenting skills.



High Love and High Limits.

Children raised by this style learn to accept responsibility, make wiser choices, cope with change, and are better equipped to succeed in a work-force which relies on

cooperative problem-solving.

Giving choices

A balance of freedom and responsibility.

Sometimes called the democratic or balanced parenting style, it relies on the principles of equality and trust.

Parents and children are equal in terms of their need for dignity and worth but not in terms of responsibility and decision making.

Parents model right and wrong by their words and deeds, and give reasons for limits; discipline is used to teach and guide, not punish or control.

Parents present expectations to gain a child’s cooperation and respect, including demands of maturity.

Although this 1950’s sitcom was entitled Father Knows Best, is portrayed an authoritative parenting style rather than authoritarian.



68% of children live with both parents; 28% live with one parent; 4% live with someone other than a parent

Over the last 35 years, there has been an increase in the number of people choosing not to marry and living alone in households, and a decrease in the number of married people living with their children in households.

Although statistically the traditional nuclear family grouping is the most successful one for raising children, it has not existed in the majority of homes. It once reached 46% for an all time high. Many factors have influenced the family picture historically, including life expectancy/mortality, child labor trends, women in the workforce, divorce rates, births to unwed mothers, etc.

The “traditional” nuclear family, with a husband wage-earner, wife homemaker and dependent children, now accounts for less than 10 percent of all American households.



The family is the most fundamental of society's institutions, for it is within the family setting that character, morality, responsibility, ability, and wisdom are nurtured best in children. There is a direct correlation between a family founded on a lifelong marriage and low incidences of crime, addiction, abuse, illness, and underachievement.

There is not doubt, statistically, that the children raised in a household with both biological parents is at an advantage. Fathers and mothers, men and women, interact differently with children…





Roughhouses with children;plays louder

Encourage competition

Do not modify language for the child’s sake

Talk is brief, direct, and to the point, with subtle body language and facial expressions

Help children prepare for harshness and reality of the real world

Model traits of men and how to treat women

Encourage children to take chances, push limits

Stress justice, fairness, and duty

Encourages independence from family

Teaches a sense of right and wrong with discipline

Gentle with children; plays quieter

Encourage equity

Simplifies words and talks on child’s level

Talk is more descriptive, personal, expressive of feelings, and verbally encouraging

Help protect children from the harshness and reality of real world

Model traits of women and how to treat men

Encourages caution and protection of self

Stress sympathy, care, and help

Encourages security in the family

Teaches a sense of hopefulness with discipline



A high amount of conversation and level of interaction between parents and children has an enormous, positive impact on a child's development. Even in intact families, however, children suffer from a lack of intimate time with their parents.

On average, Dads spend 8 minutes, working mothers spend 11 minutes, and stay-at-home moms spend less than 30 minutes talking to their children each day.

Nearly 20 percent of students in grades 6 through 12 report that they have not had a 10-minute conversation with at least one of their parents in more than a month.

According to latest research, children enrolled in early childhood programs and day care centers on the whole actually have an edge in school over those who stay at home with a parent.



Responsible adults make the decision to have children…they are not just “accidents”. In making that decision, a couple must decide that the children will be a priority in their lives. They must be willing to place their family’s needs in the proper perspective in relation to job, career, friends, personal interests, finances, demands on time, increased energy needed, and their marriage. The focus of the family must shift from “I want” and “we want” to “they need”.

When it’s been a long, hard day, are you still going to make the effort to read a bedtime story? When your child wakes up in the morning too sick to go to school, are you going to leave them home alone so you can go to work? Are you going to live without new shoes so they can get a cavity filled?




There was a period in history where, even though divorce was fairly common, many families stayed together for the sake of their children. This trend changed in the 1970’s, as researchers indicated that it was probably more damaging to the child to hear their parents argue and fight than it was to accept their divorce. Unfortunately, those findings were later reversed. In the long run, children apparently are better off in homes with unhappy parents than in homes after parents divorced and moved apart.

Children from divorce have feelings of guilt, helplessness, anger, and sadness. They may suffer from depression, troubles with relationships or school achievement, eating, sleeping, etc.

Current U.S. divorce rate is just about 50%, with Nebraska being ranked 15th from the bottom at 40%

55% of those divorces involved couples with children

Custody of those children was given to the mother 68% of the time

1,000,000 children in the U.S. per year from divorced homes

Children often feel they are to blame, or that they can somehow get their parents back together. They frequently have more difficulty with intimate relationships.



Over 25% of all children are living without the biological father in the home, due to divorce, unwed mothers, abandonment, death, etc. What are the results?

The children are:

Eight times more likely to go to prison. Twenty times more likely to become rapists. Ten times more likely to abuse chemical substances. 33 times more likely to be seriously abused. 73 times more likely to be fatally abused. One-tenth as likely to get A's in school. On average have a 44% higher mortality rate. On average have a 72% lower standard of living.

85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders, 90% of all homeless and runaway children, 71% of all high school dropouts, 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers, 63% of children committing suicide, 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions, and 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in fatherless homes.



A key characteristic of single-parent families is the limited resources, including time, energy, and money available to them.(less than ½ of all ordered child support is paid in full)

Nearly 60% of children in single parent families are living in poverty.

  • Lower incomes relate to:
  • Lack of health insurance
  • Improper medical and dental care
  • Lack of immunizations
  • Hunger/malnutrition
  • Inadequate shelter.

Children in single-parent families are twice as likely to drop out of high school as children living full time in two-parent families.

Children in single-parent homes are more likely to have their own marriages end in separation or divorce.

Children in single-parent homes are at the highest risk for unmarried parenthood.


Step Families...

Husband with children marries , no-kids wife (the step-momster).

Wife with children marries no-kids husband.Divorced mom with kids marries divorced dad with kids.

Widow or widower with kids remarries.

Divorced or widowed parents of adult children marry.And many other possibilities.

Step families, often called blended families, have unique characteristics, which pose unique problems for the couple as well as the new family unit:

1. At least some members of the family have experienced “loss”, an emotional crisis.

2. The biological parent and child have a longer history and stronger ties to each other than the couple does.

3. The children’s other biological parent does not belong to this family…and may belong to another family

4. Children from a previous marriage now have 2 families to deal with and schedule time with, including holidays and children’s birthdays, etc.

5. Stepparents don’t fill biological parent’s roles, including no legal rights

6. Over 1/3 of all children born now will live in a stepfamily household by the time they are 18 years old.

7. 75% of all remarriages end in divorce.

Preparing individuals for life and work
  • Strengthening families
  • Empowering communities

Created by Barbara L. Swarthout, Family & Consumer Sciences teacher at Elkhorn High School