Every parent wants the best for their children. Take one look around the playground and it’s impossible not to notice that there are many different parenting styles out there. Evaluating your parenting style and how it is impacting your child can help you find the style that is most beneficial for you and your children.

The term “helicopter parenting” describes parents who are over-involved in their children’s lives. They hover close by, and swoop down to help at the first sign of trouble. If you’re an overprotective parent who feels the need to control most aspects of your child’s life you likely fit the bill of a helicopter parent. A helicopter mom or dad is someone who constantly intervenes to prevent failures, overlooks kids’ weaknesses, and hovers closely.

Dubbed “bulldozer,” “snowplow” or “lawnmower” parents, these are the grown-ups who try to mow down obstacles in their children’s way to make their lives easier and help them succeed. Their actions are well-intended but not harmless, say counselors and parenting experts, who stress that young people need to learn to handle obstacles on their own even if they sometimes stumble or fail. Experts say that parents may be making lives easier for their kids in the short term, but they’re missing out when they don’t learn problem-solving, conflict resolution and coping skills they need for life.

There are more mainstream terms and descriptions to identify parenting styles and they include:

Permissive parenting

Sometimes referred to as nontraditional, indulgent parents, these parents make very few demands of their children and rarely discipline them because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control. This style of parenting is also referred to as “lenient.” The permissive parenting style is often evidenced by individuals who try to be more friend than parent, avoid confrontation but are generally nurturing and communicative. Kids who grow up with permissive parents are more likely to struggle academically. They may exhibit more behavioral problems as they don’t appreciate authority and rules and often have low self-esteem.

Uninvolved parenting

Uninvolved parents expect children to raise themselves. They don’t devote much time or energy into meeting children’s basic needs. This type of parenting may be neglectful but it’s not always intentional.

Uninvolved parents may lack knowledge about child development, or they are simply overwhelmed with other problems, like work, paying bills, and managing a household. Children with uninvolved parents are likely to struggle with self-esteem issues. They tend to perform poorly in school. They also exhibit frequent behavior problems and rank low in happiness.

Authoritative parenting

Parents who fit into this category typically establish rules and guidelines and expect their children to follow them. Their method is a bit more democratic than “what I say goes.” For children who fail to meet the authoritative parent’s expectations, the parent is more nurturing, forgiving and responsive. Their idea of discipline is to be assertive but not restrictive and to support rather than punish. Children raised with authoritative discipline tend to be happy and successful. They’re also more likely to be good at making decisions and evaluating safety risks on their own.

Instinctive parenting

This might be called the “old school” method of parenting, usually influenced by your own upbringing. In other words, as an instinctive parent you’re more likely to teach what you know and parent the way you were parented, whether you were brought up by your mother and father, siblings or another caregiver.

Whatever parenting style you identify with, parents can learn how to blend those styles to best suit their important job of parenting and provide their children with the best possible outcomes as adults.

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Mary Migliaro is an educator, parenting mentor and consultant who lives in Cherokee County.

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