Your style of parenting has a lot to do with shaping your children's personalities and values on into adulthood. The easiest or fastest way to get children to behave is not always the best. We tend to approach the task the way our parents did with us, unless we make a deliberate effort to learn a better way.
There are three basic styles of parenting (these vary slightly according to the source): authoritarian, permissive, and balanced. Authoritarian parents are the strictest. They tend to:
* Expect total obedience, with no questions asked
* Give few explanations for their directives: "just do it because I said so"
* Use punishment readily and usually believe in the efficacy of spanking
* Are often perfectionists in their expectations for children's behavior
Permissive parents are the most lenient. They tend to:
* Set few rules, allowing children to do largely as they please
* Hate to say no to their children, and often spoil them
* Believe children will mature and flourish on their own with minimal guidance
* Don't like conflict; they want their children to "like" them and not be angry at them
Balanced parents are more moderate than either of the above extremes. They tend to:
* Set limits and allow children to make their own decisions within those limits
* Allow children to make mistakes and learn from them
* Use natural and logical consequences to teach, instead of spanking or yelling
* Are firm but loving, and treat children with respect even when they misbehave
As you might have guessed, the last approach is the healthiest one for raising well-adjusted children. Depending on their temperament, children raised in an authoritarian style tend to be either timid, dependent, and lacking in self-confidence, or rebellious, aggressive, and defiant toward authority. Children raised in the permissive style tend to be spoiled, cranky, and used to getting their way. This sets them up for rejection by both peers and adults because they expect to have their way in other settings as they do at home. Children raised in the moderate style tend to be more responsible, cooperative, considerate of others, and have healthier self-esteem.