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The Healthy Parent Child Relationship

Parenting can be difficult and challenging, but it can also be fun and rewarding. Our role as parents is to teach our children and young adults how to make responsible decisions so they can grow up to be independent, responsible adults.

According to Wikipedia, parenting or child rearing is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the intricacies of raising a child aside from the biological relationship.[1]Wikipedia

Merriam Webster defines parenting as the raising of a child, the act or process of becoming a parent, or the taking care of someone in the manner of a parent.

The Bible teaches us in Proverbs 22:6 to train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The question is, "How do you train up a child?" What is your definition of child rearing? Are you fostering a nurturing environment that encourages your child to grow up to be a responsible, independent adult?

From the moment I first found out I was pregnant, I studied everything I could to be the best parent I could be. I read parenting books and subscribed to parenting magazines and even studied child development for my Associates degree. I wanted to be well equipped to raise my son right.

During the 1960’s, psychologist Diana Baumrind suggested that there were three parenting styles: Authoritarian, Authoritative, and Permissive.

Psychologist Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin also suggested a fourth parenting style known as uninvolved.

This is what I learned in my Child Development studies:

Authoritarian parents have high expectations of their children. They enforce strict rules with punishments, instead of disciplining and providing guidance about why the rules are set. This parent is known for saying, “Because I said so.”

Children who have authoritarian parents may develop low self-esteem and may have anger issues. Due to the high expectations, they may begin to lie to get out of trouble.

Permissive parents are very nurturing toward their children and have few rules. These parents have low expectations for their children. Their rules are seen as inconsistent and they rarely discipline their children. These parents take on the role of a “friend.” They are known for saying, “Kids will be kids.”

Children who grow up in a permissive parenting style house hold may have health problems, because their parents neglected to show them how to brush their teeth or take them for medical and dental visits. They may also struggle academically. They may have a lack of respect for authority and rules, as they were not taught about respect and following the rules. They may also develop low self esteem and they may grow up to be sad.

Uninvolved or Neglectful parents have very few demands and little communication toward their children. They fill the child’s basic needs, such as food and shelter, but they offer little or no structure or rules. This can be due to many reasons, such as parents that need to work more to make ends meet, a parent that is disabled and cannot help their child, or it can also be due to parents that are alcoholics, for instance. These parents are known for being detached from the child’s life, for one reason or another.

Children raised by uninvolved parents have self-esteem issues and do not perform well academically. They also tend to have behavior problems.

The Authoritative parenting style is my favorite! When I first learned about the authoritative parenting style, I was determined this was the parent I wanted to be. Authoritative parents are nurturing toward their children, they set boundaries and rules, and they discipline their children through guidance in the form of teaching them right from wrong. These parents have high expectations and want the best for their children. These parents are known for having open communication and encouraging their children.

Authoritative parents do set rules and have consequences in place. They also take the time to explain the rules to their children and take into consideration other factors when enforcing the rules. For instance, if the child misbehaves and had a bad day at school, due to losing a soccer game, the parent may empathize on this occasion that everyone has a bad day and forego the punishment. These parents invest time and energy into their child’s life and provide positive reinforcements toward good behavior.

Children whose parents have an authoritative parenting style usually grow up to be happy and successful. They do well academically. They build strong emotional ties, because they learned how to have positive relationships.

Our parenting style influences how a child thinks, feels, and behaves. Other factors that come into play are the child’s temperament, the families’ values, and culture.

Parents can improve their parenting skills by:

  1. Parenting together! Remember, you and your spouse are a team. If you are not on the same page as parents, this can bring confusion to the child or the child may use those times to their advantage, such as going to the parent they know will say yes. This in turn creates conflict between the husband and wife.

  2. Being a role model to their child. What you say and do matters. Your child looks up to you. Your words should be encouraging and supportive. Make saying yes to your child a regular occurrence, so that when you say no they understand the importance of the matter.

  3. Filling your child’s bucket. Do you know your child’s love language? It’s important to know how your child receives love so they can feel loved by you. Little things mean a lot. Find out what your child’s love language is and provide the kind of love they respond to best. If your child needs to hear the words, “I love you,” or “I am proud of you,” and you are not saying it but in your own way you show it, they are not receiving it.

  4. Eating meals together is a great way to keep communication open. Meal times present a perfect opportunity for families to come together and for parents to enter into their children’s world. It’s important to know about your child’s teachers, friends, activities, and daily happenings.

  5. Establish clear rules and boundaries and discipline toward guiding your child to make good decisions. Turn mistakes into teachable opportunities so that they are able to make better choices in the future.

  6. Listen to your child and validate their feelings. Although it is important to set clear rules and boundaries, it is also important to take your child’s feelings into consideration.

  7. Allow your child to make simple choices so that they can begin to learn independence.

  8. Reward them! After all, who doesn’t appreciate an incentive once in a while? Even as adults, we receive incentives in the form of a raise, a promotion, paid time off, or a bonus.

  9. Most importantly, maintain a loving relationship with your child. For me, this translates into a love where my child knows he or she is loved unconditionally.

The outcome of our parenting style matters in how we raise our children. The authoritative parenting style has been linked to positive behavior. Children raised in these homes are happier and healthier and grow up to have strong self-esteem. They become competent adults who can assimilate and make positive contributions in society.

Are you nurturing your child?

Do you set rules and boundaries for your child?

Do you discipline your child through guidance, teaching right from wrong, and having open communication where the child’s feelings are valued?



Ross Vasta, Scott A Miller, Shari Ellis. Child Psychology. Fourth Edition. Wiley. 2004.

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