New research from the University of New Hampshire confirms that authoritarian parents whose child-rearing style is summed up as “it’s my way or the highway” are more likely to raise disrespectful, delinquent children who do not see them as legitimate authority figures than parents who listen to their children and gain their respect and trust.
This is the first study to look at whether parenting styles influence adolescents’ beliefs about the legitimacy of parent authority and if those perceptions affect delinquent behavior.
The study’s findings are not surprising. I have previously shared my views about how over controlling parents hinder the personal growth, self-reliance and independence of their children. (See Parent Problems for Type A Personalities)
When parents are willing to listen to their children’s views and concerns and engage in open-minded dialogue, it instills mutual trust and respect.
The parental decision or rules may remain the same, but the fact that it was reached in a more democratic manner increases the likelihood of it being honored. Rick Trinker, the lead researcher of the New Hampshire Study, states that “When children consider their parents to be legitimate authority figures….the child is more likely to follow the rules when the parent is not physically present.”
I call this “due process” parenting.
The simple truth is that we parents are not always right! And what may have been right or good for us may not be so for our children. It is important for us to acknowledge the innate differences between ourselves and our children, as well as the enormous challenges children face in our hectic, and at times chaotic world. We thus need to be open to re-examining our positions.
In short, it is important that parents be humble!
I am by no means recommending permissive parenting where few rules or boundaries are set, but simply that strong parental control should be used in moderation and primarily where the health, safety, and well being (socially, morally, and spiritually) of our children are at stake. I address this important issue in The Fundamental Parental Challenge: Letting Go of Control, where I offer guidelines for distinguishing between exercising responsible parental authority and excessive parental control.
Hopefully, the New Hampshire study will encourage authoritarian parents, including “Tiger Moms,” to ease up some.
Please share with me your beliefs, insights and experiences (good and bad) about parental control.
In the meantime, remember to
Let It Go!