Ramifications of Different Parenting Styles

September 22nd, 2010 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

A number of years ago, researchers studied four styles of parenting to see what style resulted in obese or overweight children.  The results aren’t terribly surprising, if you have ever been a kid yourself and thought about the kind of upbringing you’ve had.

It has very interesting implications for parents of type one kids, if you ask me.

First off, I should explain one thing of note: the study refers to “parents” but only really ever refers to “mothers”.  I’m not saying this is a surprise, but I would have worded the study differently if I were in charge.  (Which I am most definitely NOT.)

The four parenting styles are:

Authoritative– have high demands for maturity and self-control from their children but also display high levels of sensitivity, emotional warmth, and involvement. There is often a give and take between the parent and child in which the parent acknowledges the child’s worth and opinions but maintains certain limits. The authoritative parenting style is often considered the ideal and has been associated with improved child outcomes, such as higher academic achievement, increased self-regulatory ability, frequent use of adaptive strategies, fewer depressive symptoms, and fewer risk-taking behaviors.

Authoritarian– have high demands for self-control but low levels of sensitivity. They often are insensitive to the child’s developmental needs, providing minimal emotional support, and are viewed as strict disciplinarians. The authoritarian parenting style has been associated with poorer outcomes among children, such as lower academic grades, compared with the authoritative style.

Permissive– characterized by low expectations for self-control and discipline in the setting of high sensitivity and warmth. Children from these families may be more self-confident but often show lower levels of self-control (eg, higher rates of drug use and school misconduct) than do children from authoritative or authoritarian homes.

Neglectful — defined by low levels of both demands for self-control and sensitivity. Neglectful parenting is associated typically with unfavorable child outcomes, such as high rates of depression, smoking, and poor school achievement and psychosocial development.

Perhaps not surprising, by the time children in the study reached first grade, a number of them were already overweight.  The breakdown by parenting style was:

Authoritative- 3.9% of the kids were overweight

Authoritarian- 17.1% of the kids were overweight

Permissive- 9.8% were overweight

Neglectful- 9.9% were overweight

I imagine these results for a child’s weight might look very similar to results of kids with either type of diabetes.  Maybe not in terms of their body weight, but in terms of their blood sugar management and overall health

Depending on what side of the equation you are on, think about the parenting style you experience.  We all know some potential consequences of growing up include drug use, poor grades, depression, smoking, and drinking.  The complicating factor here is that with diabetes, the  ramifications of each are much much more damaging for those with diabetes than they are for those living without diabetes. 

Most of us won’t have too many chances to get it “right”… we need to make the best healthiest decisions as many days as possible.

I can’t applaud parents enough for all you deal with; most significantly to me must be the pervasive and omnipresent question: “am I doing the right thing?”   We know you love each other.  But sometimes the way we express it has big-time effects.

Maybe it’s worth a conversation someday soon with your child or your parent.  Maybe some of this is easier to change than you fear.  Maybe it just takes some awareness on both sides of the equation.

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