The Ideal Parenting Style

The Ideal Parenting Style

Episode #15 | The Ideal Parenting Style

I’ve spent the last couple months talking about the two foundational elements of parenting: love and authority. These elements may also be known as warmth and expectations, or responsiveness and demandingness. I’ve also talked about how rewards and punishments don’t actually work at meeting our long term goals: to raise kind, honest, hard working people.

Children need love and discipline to reach their full potential. But what happens when parents exert too much control and not enough love? Or the opposite: too much love and not enough authority? How can we balance our authority with our children’s agency? Today we’ll discuss the perfect balance: authoritative parenting. 


“They not only expect absolute obedience, and use punishment freely to obtain it, but also believe it’s more important for children to comply with authority than to think for themselves or express their opinions. They insist that kids need to be carefully monitored, and when a rule is broken—which just confirms their dark suspicions about what children are really like—authoritarian parents tend to assume the child deliberately chose to break it, irrespective of his or her age.” (Alfie Kohn, Unconditional Parenting)

“Without a healthy sense of control, kids feel powerless and overwhelmed and will often become passive or resigned. When they are denied the ability to make meaningful choices, they are at high risk of becoming anxious, struggling to manage anger, becoming self-destructive, or self-medicating.” ( William Stixrud, The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives)

“We ought to do so much for our children, and are able to do so much for them, that we begin to think everything rests with us and that we should never intermit for a moment our conscious action on the young mind and hearts about us. Our endeavors become fussy and restless. We are too much with our children, ‘late and soon.’ We try to dominate them too much, even when we fail to govern, and we are unable to perceive that wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education.” (Charlotte Mason, School Education, p. 27-28)

Alice Miller once observed that it’s possible to love a child “passionately—but not in the way he needs to be loved.”

“If she’s right, the relevant question isn’t just whether—or even how much—we love our kids. It also matters how we love them.” (Alfie Kohn, Unconditional Parenting)

“I have no hesitancy, brothers and sisters, in stating that unless checked, permissiveness, by the end of its journey, will cause humanity to stare in mute disbelief at its awful consequences.” (Becometh as a Child, Neal A Maxwell, April 1996)

“So, as it relates to how to raise kids, a lot of parents are a little confused about how to proceed these days. They’re mired in that muddy territory that lies between permissiveness and authoritarianism. They want their kid to be independent, but not if he’s going to make bad choices. They want to avoid being harsh and rigid, but not if the result is a noncompliant, disrespectful kid. They want to avoid being too pushy and overbearing, but not if an unmotivated, apathetic kid is what they have to show for it. They want to have a good relationship with their kid, but not if that means being a pushover. They don’t want to scream, but they do want to be heard.It’s all about balance, but the balance sometimes seems so precarious, so difficult to achieve.” (Ross Greene, Raising Human Beings)

“When we recognise that God does not make over the bringing up of children absolutely even to their parents, but that He works Himself, in ways which it must be our care not to hinder, in the training of every child, then we shall learn passiveness, humble and wise. We shall give children space to develop on the lines of their own characters in all right ways, and shall know how to intervene effectively to prevent those errors which, also, are proper to their individual characters.” (Charlotte Mason, School Education, p. 35)

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