Sunday, November 22, 2009

Authoritative, Authoritarian, and Permissive Self-Parenting

Here's a nice summary of different parenting styles:

The authoritarian style is strict and dictatorial, with no dialog between parent & child.

The permissive or indulgent style is lenient, with little discipline or rules.

The authoritative style is balanced: there are clear rules, clear boundaries, which are consistently enforced, but lots of empathy, understanding, dialog, and flexibility. Strong consideration is given to the child's point of view.

I think these different styles could be applied to one's own individual mind -- I encourage aiming for a healthy, balanced, authoritative style.

Authoritarian styles will be oppressive, and foster resentment, unhappiness, anger, and rebellion within oneself (sometimes an "underground" rebellion manifesting itself as depressive self- harm).

Permissive styles could feel liberating, but could lead to an experience of drifting, with a lack of direction, without a feeling of growing or developing one's potential.

An authoritative style would lead to a healthy balance between freedom and self-discipline, allowing for growth, challenge, and happiness. It could also tame the wilder forces within your mind, not by suppressing them, but by hearing them and guiding them in a well-boundaried, safe context.


Rach said...

Have you read "Kids are worth it!" by Coloroso?

Definitely worth reading...

GK said...

There are situations in which "self-parenting" styles may not seem to affect one's main predicament.

An analogy could be the situation of finding oneself adrift on a raft in the middle of the ocean.

You could be mean to yourself, lenient to yourself, or "authoritative", but it might not make a lot of difference to your state of being adrift.

However, I think the best possible chances of navigating out of this situation, of being able to respond to subtle navigational cues, distant rescue planes, fish to eat next to the raft, etc. come if you engage in a gentle, empathic, loving, yet disciplined, "authoritative" style--this has the highest chance of helping to preserve morale and hope, and to maintain preparedness.

If the analogy is of a parent and child on the raft, the authoritative parent might do his or her best to comfort the child, even if there is no rescue in sight.

GK said...

I haven't read this book, but I'm just looking at some reviews.

I think parenting books in general are worth taking a look at, even if you're not a parent.

The various authors within this genre may be influenced by a relatively conservative or liberal stance. On either side of this spectrum, I suspect that individual authors may be prone to either project or impose a cultural or political stance upon the reader, or overgeneralize their methods, sometimes perhaps without a strong evidence base to support them, aside from a small number of case studies.

So, as with any type of advice literature, I think it's valuable to take a look at a variety of authors, and work with the ideas that suit your style best.

The idea of "authoritativeness" I think could be fairly embraced by anyone, regardless of cultural or political stance, since it allows both for dialog & empathy as well as clear boundaries & consistent fair discipline.

Rach said...

Your raft comment reminded me of another good read, Life of Pi... (totally off topic...)

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to add a little more information.

1)Although numerous research studies are referenced which show positive outcomes for children when parents adopt all four dimension of the authoritative approach, others argue that her dimensions reflect cultural values.

In specific the "frequency and degree of open communication between children and parent" dimension might reflect a north American cultural bias.

-Some research suggests that children with superior cognitive test scores have parents who use Authoritarian style parenting. (Some Asian- American Parents use this style and it is also used in India. )

However, I am don't think cognitive function can be generalized to overall function I would like to find out if there are any longitudinal studies (ie does authoritarian style parenting lead to well adjusted adults in all the social, cognitive, and emotional dimensions.But I guess "well adjusted adults" is also a culturally biased term. My guess here is that authoritative style success is short-lived and as soon as the external authoritative figure is gone the child will either run wild or be unmotivated to do anything.)

Personally I wouldn't us this style on my potential future children or my own inner child.

2) I don't know if you mentioned inductive discipline but I also think that would be helpful here.
This is when parents explain the consequences of the child's actions in terms of its effect on others.
I think this could be applied to self parenting as well.

3)Alternative dimensions (by Canadian researchers)

This is from a developmental course I took.

In addition to the cultural biases/values incorporated in Baumrind’s dimensions, alternative approaches argue that Baumrind’s types are problematic. Specifically, alternative approaches prefer to identify independent and continuous dimension without converting the dimensions into a parenting type/label (authoritarian, authoritative, permissive). Another problem the alternative approaches overcome is Baumrind’s focus on parents (nurture). Specifically, alternative approaches focus on interactions and consider child temperament as a key (nature) variable.

Four continuous and independent dimensions of parent-child interactions:

---1)Frequency of hostile parent-child interactions:

a.Parents use of sarcasm
b.Parents use of put-downs
c.Parents mixing anger with punishment (spanking laws)
d.Parents use of conditional love

--2) Frequency of punitive parent-child interactions:
a.Parents intimidating by shouting
b.Parents over-reliance on punishment (proportion of punishment in discipline)
c.Parents use of physical punishment

--3)Frequency of consistency in parent-child interactions:
a.Parents outline directives (rules)
b.Parents follow through with consequences
c.Parents give a warning before following through with consequences

--4)Frequency of positive parent-child interactions:
a.Parents and children engage in mutually satisfying activities
b.Parents and children have fun together during these activities


---Frequency of hostile parent-child interactions predict persistent child behavior problems (about 9 times higher).

---Punitive parenting practices predict child aggression.

All this could also be use for Self-Parenting techniques.


GK said...

Thanks for the comment.
My concept of "authoritativeness" basically is to be low on dimensions(1) and (2) and high on dimensions (3) and (4) listed in your comment.

I believe the association between authoritarianism and cognitive test scores is spurious and narrow, in a similar way that the association between playing tetris and cognitive test improvement is spurious. Analogously, the Olympic teams of previous authoritarian tyrannical states often won numerous medals -- but at a tremendous cost to the nation's health. Or, creative performers, musicians, and authors in authoritarian states may have achieved great technical prowess (though more often were merely suppressed), but they tended to have extremely narrow, stunted creative or imaginative development. A few great performers came from such regimes, but this is, in my opinion, reflective of the great power of the human spirit to overcome tremendous oppressive obstacles, and is certainly not reflective of any positive value of authoritarian teaching, training, or rearing styles. The one positive feature of authoritarianism, in this sense, is that at least it provided a clear and disciplined structure for developing abilities or talents. But this type of structure, without love, leads to a type of sterile, robotic achievement, and may break the spirits of many promising students before they achieve anything.

Going back to the analogy of animal behaviour (a great realm to really control for cultural or hereditary factors, etc.), I think it is clear that negative or hostile interactions done in the name of "discipline" merely consolidate hostile traits; positive behavioural (and, we can infer, inner, change) requires gentle, nurturing guidance, with plenty of fun, without hostility, and with a minimum of punishment as a method of behavioural guidance.

A solid evidence base for examining human rearing styles will remain subject to debate, since it is difficult to do long-term prospective, studies which control for hereditary factors, child & parent temperament, etc.

But I stick to a strong opinion, based on my own reading of the existing evidence, about the value of nurturing, authoritative parenting of children & self.