In 1960, Diane Baumrind created a now commonly cited categorization of four different parenting styles. They were:
- The Authoritarian Parent: Strict and disciplinarian, with little room for negotiation and plenty of room for punishment. Communication is one way: Parent to child, and rules, boundaries and expectations are implemented – not explained.
- The Uninvolved Parent: Completely hands off, communication and nurturing are limited. No discipline or boundaries are expressed, and children are generally free to do whatever they want with no guidance, making for unruly children and unrealistic adults.
- The Permissive Parent: Prone to spoiling and indulgence, these parents are warmer and more loving than Authoritarians. Communication is present but children are generally made to decide for themselves, and expectations come second to happiness.
- The Authoritative Parent: Reasonable and nurturing, expectations are high but are communicated clearly. Communication is frequent, and boundaries are expressed with reasonable consequence if crossed. Children raised in this style are shown to be more self-disciplined and independent, which has long made it the most beneficial style for children.
For years, since the very emergence of those four restrictive parenting types, parents have been shoehorning themselves into one of those categories.
Thankfully, in the twenty-first century, new parenting styles and philosophies have emerged. These philosophies are grounded in trust, respect, communication, love and nurture and overall make our children wholler, better people as well as making us better parents.
Whilst some of the new parenting philosophies draw on elements of the previous Baumrind styles, for example, Intentional Parents align most commonly with aspects of Authoritative ones, these styles are much more adaptable to modern life and the modern challenges parents face when bringing up their children.
Here’s your quick guide to all seven new and emerging philosophies of parenting.
1. Attachment Parenting
Attachment Parenting is a parenting philosophy that harnesses the power of touch and nurture to strengthen family bonds through children’s early years. In their first early years of life children, and especially babies, have natural needs for trust, respect, love and affection.
The best way to build this love and care is through skin to skin contact, as is recommended by the nurses the minute your baby is born.
Attachment Parenting therefore comes with pillars that it calls The 7 B’s. Some of the most notable practices include:
- Bedding close to baby: Baby sleeps in the same room as you, allowing for instant response to needs through the night, such as feeding or soothing. This teaches baby you will always be on hand to respond to their needs, which builds care and trust.
- Believing your baby’s cry is a language: Babies can’t communicate like adults, and so emotional expressions should be seen as efforts to communicate. Whether these are for needs, attention or stresses these occurrences should be communicated empathetically as opposed to dismissed or punished.
- Balance: It’s all too easy to suffer from burnout and exhaustion which can make parents irritable and withdrawn, damaging bonds with their children. To prevent this, parents should ensure to prioritise their wellbeing too and create support networks whilst living healthy lifestyles.
2. Conscious Parenting
The style of Conscious Parenting is embodying exactly what its name suggests – the act of remaining conscious to our needs as parents.
In Conscious Parenting, we as parents, are encouraged to understand ourselves before we can understand our children. Possessing this understanding allows for an environment of open communication, collaborative resolution and the building of mutual respect.
Some of the principles of mindfulness that drive Conscious Parenting styles are:
- Parenting is a Team Effort: Parents should remain open to their child’s perspectives, frustrations and mindsets and should not dismiss these because they differ from ours. Parents can learn from their children just as their children can learn from their parents.
- Letting Go is the Art of Consciousness: Parents naturally have expectations and paradigms as to how they think parenting will go, or how their children will turn out. However unrealistic expectations and desires can taint our relationships with our children. We as parents must let go of past luggage and unachieved dreams to welcome both education and enlightenment which can drive self-reflection and change, making us more rounded, open people and parents.
- Understanding, Not Consequence – Bad behavior, challenging behaviour or acting out should not be met with punishment and manipulation. Instead, the root of their cause should begin an open, curious conversation around what is troubling your child. Collaboratively narrowing down on where the behavior is stemming from and why prevents recurrences in the future and most importantly, develops trust and understanding.
3. Holistic Parenting
A Holistic Parenting style utilizes the world around us and keeps our connection to the natural world at the heart of what we do.
This parenting style encourages us and our children to remember that everything is connected, the actions we take will have consequences and moulds this fact into better behaviour so that positive actions receive positive outcomes.
Holistic Parenting incorporates positive communication, prioritizes health and uses the natural, holistic environment to strengthen our children’s mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
Some of its key healthy, happy and peaceful principles are:
- Cultivate wholeness: To live holistically is to value health and happiness and take care of body, mind, and spirit. As parenting starts with us as parents, our wellbeing is where we must start to be the best parents we wish to be. Eating healthily, exercising, reducing stress and learning to better our communication are all ways to ground our family units.
- Find balance: In today’s rushed society there is so much pressure on our shoulders that sometimes these external negativities can impact our family lives. Finding ways to maintain this balance, through acts of meditation and mindfulness help us to shut the door on the outside world and give our full presence to our families. This creates quality family time, and makes us happier and healthier.
- Encourage Emotion: Our children are unique. Their behaviours, learning styles, temperaments, dreams, goals, worries, fears and ambitions are all part of what makes them who they are. Instead of them suppressing these individualities, children should be encouraged to express themselves and be proud of who they are.
4. Intentional Parenting
Intentional Parenting is another parenting style whose objective is in its name: Parenting with intent.
To parent with intent just means having a plan, and being considerate in the actions we as parents take. Things like involving our children in conversations and decisions which could impact the entire family.
At its core intentional parenting also means to understand that our time with our children as children is short, and so each moment should intentionally be made the very most of.
Some key intentional principles are:
- Identify Core Values: Parenting with intent means planning out what you most want your children to know and learn. For example, if you want your child to know they are loved at all times, this can guide your parenting style in the values that you pass onto them, generating love, self-respect and awareness.
- Look for How: Once we know our core values, how do we teach these to our children? Figuring this out, as well as how we can transfer it into our day to day parenting is crucial to be an intentional parent.
- Remain mindful: Being mindful is to be present, and part of giving our entire presence to our children is being aware of the impact our decisions and days can have on them. Once you are home, make the intent to switch off from work and settle down to enjoy your family. Choose to focus on the happy harmony of the family home as opposed to what must be done in the office the next day.
5. Mindful Parenting
Mindful Parenting utilizes the power of mindfulness to bring our attention to our emotions, helping to regulate them in such a way that we can respond instead of react.
When we are faced with challenging or difficult situations it can be easy to be overwhelmed by our emotions and damage our relationships.
Mindful parenting combats this by giving us tools designed to let us stop so that we can respond from a place of understanding, empathy and awareness in order to more effectively resolve conflicts.
Whilst there is an entire guide to mindful parenting, here are some key takeaways:
- Pause First: Mindfulness and mindful parenting starts with us – our emotions, our self awareness, our understanding. Everything is fast paced and frantic in today’s society which impacts us as people. A mindful approach gives us needed time to slow down, pause and consider and evaluate our emotions, reactions, actions and triggers to events and situations so that we can better understand and regulate them.
- Assess When Stressed: Mindful parenting encourages us to be aware of our emotions when faced with highly stressful scenarios. Mindful parenting teaches us to respond by assessing our emotions and why we feel how we do, and then lets us react from a place of deeper, more thorough understanding. This builds bonds with our children as it promotes communicative collaboration in resolving conflicts and issues.
- Forget Prejudice: Even at their most challenging, like when your child is pushing boundaries or being uncooperative, they have a viewpoint. Their viewpoint could originate from emotions they are struggling to regulate or understand, or it could be presenting from another perspective you had not considered. In conversations like these, listen, stay calm, and remain open. Understanding the root of the issue is the key to resolving it.
6. Peaceful Parenting
Whilst peaceful parenting might sound familiar to uninvolved or permissive parents, peaceful parenting is similar to mindful parenting in its teachings of acceptance, respect and understanding.
Peaceful parenting understands underlying needs may drive certain behaviors, so promotes the teaching of vital developmental skills such as cooperation, integrity, and self-discipline. Together, these benefit future situations by maintaining a sense of caring connection, compassion and warmth to our children.
Key principles include:
- No Punishment: One of the key aspects of parenting peacefully is that fear-based obedience, or strategized punishment and reward cycles are not condoned. Instead, our children should be encouraged to make choices from places of empathy, integrity and responsibility by teaching mutual respect, respectful listening and sensitivity to others’ feelings. Such open communication leads to diplomatic, collaborative problem resolution when facing challenging scenarios and strengthens a harmonious family unit borne in compassion, love and respect.
- Connect: Any parenting can not succeed if connection is not nurtured or maintained. The connection is essential in bonding with our children and can develop in playtime, open discourse and physical contact. Realistic boundaries also stem from places of connection and are communicated first. This prevents our children pushing back on limits we have outlaid because they feel connected, appreciated and respected.
- Be a place of safety: If children repress their emotions as opposed to expressing them, the result is often uncooperative or challenging behavior. Staying calm, compassionate, and responsive in the face of angry or upset children is one way to build their safety and comfort so they will feel confident in communicating what is truly troubling them. This alleviates the behavior as well as teaching our children to be more self-aware and be aware of emotional reactions and responses.
7. Respectful Parenting
Respectful Parenting cultivates respect throughout our family units by appreciating our children for who they are and the experiences and interests that shape them as people.
Our children must be seen, heard and accepted just like adults are and this respect starts from the minute our children are born.
Respectful parenting nurtures the natural, curious drive to learn that children are born with and extends it to us as parents by encouraging us to get to understand our children. From this understanding we can better identify and respond to their needs, unlock their true full potential and lead them to more meaningful lives.
Its ideologies include:
- Treating children as people: Throughout society children are dismissed as naive, inexperienced and uneducated. This leads to their opinions and perspectives often being dismissed and unappreciated. Instead, respectful parents listen, empathize and seek to understand what a child is communicating, just as adults would in everyday conversations.
- Children can consent: If adults are forced to do something against their will it is seen as poor behavior and of criminal intent. Children should be treated no differently. If a child does not want to hug a stranger, they shouldn’t have to. Whilst there will be occasions where children must do the things they don’t want to do, like vaccines, we must actively pursue what is right for our children while appreciating our children’s thoughts and feelings.
- Harbour Empathy: Empathy stems from a place of respect, and this is why empathy is at the heart of respectful parenting. Instead of controlling, restricting, or minimizing our children’s thoughts, viewpoints and feelings we must listen, acknowledge and accept in order to treat them with deserved respect and compassion. This paves the way for how they will then treat others in their lifetimes.
I hope you have enjoyed this trip through the parenting styles of new and old and hopefully found your own style.