This is a brief discussion paper I wrote on parenting styles. It’s only a single page long, but might spark some ideas or discussion for people. Additionally, when writing about how characters interact with children (either their own, or others) -or how child characters interact with the adults around them- it might be helpful to think about the styles of parenting. While nature and nurture are still much debated, it can help to think of characters as a core collection of behaviours, impulses, and tendencies (nature) that have been shaped and modified by their environment (nurture).
Does a character’s actions make sense with the backstory you’ve given them? Would a rebellious princess really lash out and run away with a permissive parent figure that gave in to their every demand? Do the parent figures act consistently? (If a permissive father gives in to every demand the princess makes, it doesn’t make sense for him to turn around and demand she do something)
The authoritative parenting style has been found to be the best method of parenting since it was defined by Diana Baumrind (Sigelman & Rider, 2012). It is linked with improved academic performance among adolescents, partly because parental authoritativeness is also linked with high involvement in the child’s academic success (Steinberg, Lamborn, Dornbusch, & Darling, 1992). The parenting styles can be further broken down into three aspects –affection, behavioural control, and psychological control. Aunola and Nurmi (2005) found that high psychological control and affection was indicative of problematic behaviour while high behavioural control and low psychological control was linked with a decrease in problem behaviour. Interestingly, low affection and high psychological control was linked with a decrease in external problematic behaviour, which Aunola and Nurmi (2005) hypothesize is because it is still a more functional form of parenting than the neglectful type.
From these studies I feel it would be interesting to see what results could be found when comparing maternal and parental parenting styles. For example, in non-divorced households if the two parents interact with their children in different ways, how would the distinct parenting styles impact upon each other? Would a single authoritative parent counter the negative effects of a permissive or neglectful one? It seems to be logical to assume that the best developmental outcomes for children would arise from a household where both parents exhibit the same style of parenting (even if that style is not authoritative). Parental discrepancy or double messages have been shown to impact negatively on a child’s adjustment (Aunola & Nurmi, 2005), and I believe that such findings would hold true even if the discrepancy is between two parents instead of within the behaviour of a single parent.
Aunola, K., Nurmi, J. (2005). The role of parenting styles in children’s problem behaviour. Child Development, 76, 1144-1159. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3696624
Sigelman, C. K., & Rider, E. A. (2012). 15.3 The Child. In J. Perkins & N. Alberts (Eds.), Life-Span Human Development, 7th edition (490-496). Belmont, California: Wadsworth.
Steinberg, L., Lamborn, S. D., Dornbusch, S. M., & Darling, N. (1992). Impact of parenting practices on adolescent achievement: Authoritative parenting, school involvement, and encouragement to succeed. Child Development, 63, 1266-1281. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131532