Researchers have identified 4 types of parenting styles.
- Authoritarian or Disciplinarian – I’m the boss!
- Permissive – I don’t know what to do with him!
- Uninvolved – It’s easier to just let her do her own thing.
- Authoritative – I let her figure it out, but I’m here if she needs help
I grew up with two very distinct parenting styles that were contradicting; authoritarian and uninvolved. When I was about five or six years old, my parents divorced and I lived mainly with my mother. My mother was definitely authoritarian; I never felt my opinions or thoughts mattered much to her. I lived under the premise of “Do as I say” without question and the idea that kids were meant to be seen and not heard. I struggled and felt very oppressed and I acted out to be seen and heard in other ways because of this. I was terrified to talk to my mother about anything and in general, I wasn’t able to realize a nurturing or loving bond with her and distanced myself as an adult.
Visiting my father was a bit different; he was very loving and fun, but he wasn’t involved in the important parts of my life much. He was really nice and bragged about me to everyone he met, but I don’t think he ever attended parent-teacher conferences or doctor’s appointments; he was the fun weekend dad, which still missed the mark.
When I turned 13 years old, my father vanished off the face of the Earth (I eventually found him years later, but didn’t see him until I was 17 years old) and my mother seemed to tire of raising kids and trying to balance a relationship with us and her boyfriend, so she stopped trying. All of a sudden at 13, I felt I had no parents. From that year on, my mother didn’t attend another parent-teacher conference, didn’t interact with us much and her life mostly centered around her new husband, who didn’t seem to want much to do with us kids. I was now left to my own devices and figuring out just about aspect of life on my own.
Below are some things I recognized about my upbringing as I became an adult:
Authoritarian – Never felt I had a voice or my feelings or voice didn’t matter.
- I felt oppressed like I had no right to express my feelings.
- I wasn’t comfortable telling my parents anything personal, so I relied on friends’ advice (friends that were just as clueless as I was)
- I never spoke up in my defense; I didn’t feel I had a voice. (this caused many issues for me in different areas of my life as I got older)
- I didn’t question things, even if I wanted clarity or knew something wasn’t right.
- When I was 10 I started to build an emotional wall and kept everything to myself. (I also struggled with this well into adulthood)
- I didn’t feel like I mattered, I struggled with everything alone because I didn’t think anyone would care.
Uninvolved – Suddenly making all my own decisions and responsible for myself at 13
- Started spending the night at my boyfriend’s house when I was 16.
- Skipped school a lot
- Nobody checked on my grades, so I didn’t take school seriously.
- No one showed up at my extracurricular activities, so I quit everything! (Again, struggled with that into adulthood)
- Became very self-sufficient, but not efficient enough for a 14-year-old.
- I got pregnant my senior year of high school and quite going two months before graduation despite having a 4.0 and no one questioned or challenged it.
- With no guidance, I did the best I could with relying on my own assumptions and thoughts, which is really dangerous for an inexperienced teenager.
The combination of these parenting styles followed me into my adulthood and caused me so many trials and tribulation; heartbreak and missteps in my young adult life. It took much soul searching, reading, and paying attention for me to get back on track and start to figure life out.
Choose your parenting style wisely because you are affecting someone’s life, possibly for the rest of their life.