Leadership or Love: What do Kids Really Need?

I remember a quote that went something like this:  “Kids need to know that you care before they care what you know.”  Are kids aching for love, cuddles, and warmth or are they dying for direction, leadership, and authority?  What do kids need from their parents or educators?  What do they really want?

Their are 4 widely accepted parenting styles: authoritative (aka. tough love), authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful.  Each has its own unique characteristics and each has long-term consequences on the development of your child and on your relationship with your child. 

Neglectful parenting means that the child’s needs are not attended to.  This can include basic, fundamental needs like: not getting glasses if the child cannot see, not feeding the child, or not giving them a warm coat to wear at the bus stop on a freezing cold winter morning. (You are not neglectful if you won’t buy them their desired brand of these items.  More on that in another time.)   Children raised by neglectful parents have trouble in all sorts of relationships in life because they missed out on learning how a healthy, loving, and attentive relationship works.  They also tend to do worse in school because they don’t have support at home to talk about issues they maybe facing or anyone to simply check their homework.  This type of parenting should be an obvious no-no.

Permissive parenting is allowing your child to do what they want. Discipline and boundary setting is very difficult for these types of parents  because they prefer to be more of a friend to their child.  Frequent and/or large bribes are common in this type of parenting.  The long-term consequences of permissive parenting can include insecurity from lack of boundaries and self-centeredness.  “Affluenza” is one direct result of this type of parenting.

Authoritarian parenting sets rules and expect total respect and obedience to this rules.  There is not a lot of room for discussion between parents and kids in this relationship.  If you say “because I said so!” to your children all the time, you maybe this type of parent.  Children raised by authoritarian parenting tend to be shy and anxious and frequently are seen being more rebellious from their parents.

Authoritative parenting is the last, and best, type of parenting. Authoritative parents are clear in setting rules and boundaries and are loving in implementing them.  “I am enforcing this rule BECAUSE I love you”.  Authoritative parents allow for a discussion and explanation of the rules (even though this can be very difficult at times).  Kids raised by authoritative parents tend to do the best in the real world because they learn to communicate, to respect and be respected, and learn ‘why’ such a rule exists.

Conscious parents (and educators) are always considering their own triggers and needs when relating to their kids.  From that awareness they can then act from their kids actual best interests instead of the parents’ needs that are bred from fear and judgement.

(c) 2016, Nurture: Family Education and Guidance

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