Differences in Parenting
Consistent parenting offers your toddler a safe and nurturing environment. Sometimes, parents do not agree with each other about the best way to handle their toddler’s behaviour. It seems to be healthy for toddlers to see their parents sometimes not agree. It helps toddlers learn that people may see things differently. It also teaches them how to be flexible. Sometimes, however, parents find they never agree. This can be confusing for a toddler. It can give your toddler unhealthy power within the family, where your toddler takes sides and plays one parent against the other. This is especially likely if parents argue in front of them.
There are three main parenting styles:
- Permissive Parenting Style—Parent takes a relaxed attitude and usually lets children do want they want. Children know they are loved but don’t learn consequences.
- Authoritarian Parenting Style—Parent takes control, is strict, and expects obedience. Children learn good behaviour but often with the threat of punishment and may rebel.
- Authoritative Parenting Style—Parent is gentle but firm, is consistent, explains the reasons, and models good behaviour. Children feel secure and have self‑respect.
Research shows that the “authoritative” style of parenting is the most successful. It helps children grow into responsible, thoughtful, healthy, and productive adults. Discuss your parenting style with your partner.
If there are differing cultural beliefs and traditions within your family, you can use these to teach your toddler and enrich his or her life. Parenting styles and what is expected of children differ from culture to culture. What is thought to be strict or respectful in one culture may not be the same in another culture. The value placed on children, the rules, and the role of relatives in raising a child can vary greatly. Who is allowed to discipline children also varies. In some cultures, extended family members as well as parents are responsible for the actions of young children. In other cultures, only parents are responsible for a child’s behaviour.
It’s a good idea for parents and families to discuss their childhood beliefs, practices, and traditions about parenting and the meaning of family. Here are some tips for supporting cultural diversity:
- Acknowledge and respect the cultural differences. Listen to each other and try not to judge. Try to find out what your partner and family members believe and value.
- Think about your own culture and beliefs. Try to understand exactly why you parent the way you do. Do you consider your position more “normal” than your partner’s? Do you believe something is important because it was traditional in your family? Have you questioned whether it really is important? Have you questioned the long‑term consequences of your beliefs? Is your belief based on your own fears or your own experiences?