Define Your Philosophy

When it comes to parenting, being on the same page or in agreement with your co-parent usually brings some stability and confidence with decision making. When co-parents agree to a parenting philosophy their actions communicate a solid foundation that can provide boundaries and safety for the entire family.

Deciding on a parenting philosophy may take some research or discussion. Some parent the way they were parented; Others parent based on what they have studied about healthy child development. Several philosophies that have been highlighted include:

  • Attachment parenting
  • Authoritative parenting
  • Authoritarian parenting
  • Permissive parenting
  • Helicopter parenting

Learning about the styles and how they fit your family’s values is important. Children who know what is expected of them and feel safe and secure will be better able to manage their behavior. One study, the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaption (MLSRA) revealed that the quality of the early attachment was influential well into later childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. This study highlights the importance of the first few years of life and how influential parents can be to the growth and development of their children.

Identifying a parenting style or philosophy is one important step in creating a happy healthy family.  

Join the Science of Parenting Podcast hosts as they explore and discuss the role of identifying a parenting philosophy in this episode.

Mackenzie DeJong

Aunt of four unique kiddos. Passionate about figuring how small brains develop, process, and differ. Human Sciences Specialist, Family Life in western Iowa with a B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences and Design minor.

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Positive Parenting

Researchers have identified several different parenting styles, based on the way parents interact with their children.  Although parents exhibit characteristics from each of these parenting styles, they tend to favor one style over all the rest.

Study after study has found that the style of parenting known as authoritative parenting leads to the most positive outcomes for their child. Children of authoritative parents tend to do better socially and academically, while they also have fewer behavior problems. Below are some key characteristics of authoritative parenting that you can implement with your children.

  • Give appropriate choices. Authoritative parents allow independence by giving choices, but also maintain control by limiting these choices to only appropriate options.
  • Warm but firm. Authoritative parents set limits for their children out of love. They do not set rules “just because.” Instead, they set rules that will keep their children safe.
  • Explanations. Authoritative parents are willing to explain why they have rules. This helps children learn the importance of these rules, and use this information to make good decisions in the future.
  • Listen. Authoritative parents listen to and consider the opinions of their children. They engage in discussions with children. This lets children know they are valued, and also helps them think critically about situations. Ultimately, the responsibility always resides with the parent.

In what ways have you implemented these parenting practices?   How have you been successful?  We encourage you to share your stories with us.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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