Discover Your Parenting Style
(and How It Affects Your Child)
An Interview with Rosemary Christoph, Ph.D.
“Parenting comes in all sizes, shapes, colors, and styles,” says Rosemary Christoph, Ph.D., a therapist at the Academy at Swift River (ASR), a therapeutic college prep boarding school located in Cummington, Mass. “Most people begin parenting using their own parents as examples, or by reacting against the example their parents set for them. In either case, it’s often an unconscious process, and we find ourselves doing things that we may question after the fact. But there’s a learning curve, and children are often training us as much as we are attempting to train them.”
Whether you realize it or not, every parent has a style of interacting with their children. Parenting style isn’t determined by an isolated event, like a moment of conflict or a disagreement, but by a parent’s overall demeanor when engaging with their child. Whatever your style, your interactions undoubtedly have a profound impact on your child’s future.
Dr. Robert Brook has identified four basic parenting styles in Western culture – authoritarian, permissive/indulgent, permissive/disengaged, and authoritative (referred to as “individuated” by Dr. Christoph to avoid confusion with the authoritarian style) – each with its own strengths and limitations. There are all kinds of variations on these themes, but most parents relate to one style more than others. Which style are you? There may be more than one answer.
These are the “Because I said so” parents. The authoritarian approach was popular in the 40s and 50s (and most of Western history) when parents believed children were to be seen and not heard, and when corporal punishment was considered a sound way to discipline children. One parent, often the father, was the law-giver, and children were expected to do their chores and schoolwork and obey – no questions asked.
Authoritarian parents set rigid rules based on compliance and obedience without considering their children’s feelings or even discussing their rationale. These parents tend to be heavy-handed rather than nurturing; they express love and acceptance only when the child behaves in accordance with the parents’ wishes. Because these children live in fear of punishment and rejection, they often are inhibited, fearful, withdrawn, and depressed.
Everyone needs a break now and then. For adults, annual vacations are a golden opportunity to escape from the rigors of daily life. But what about teens? With social pressures, academic stress, and the emotional roller coaster that comes with being a teen, they sometimes need a break, too. How about a summer break that not only offers respite from daily life but also affords a chance to learn, grow, and get in shape? For teens of all shapes, sizes, abilities, and backgrounds, summer camp could be the answer.
“Why not just stay home this summer?”
Most teens do well with structure and routine during their summer vacations. If your teen sleeps in, mopes around the house, watches television, and complains that there’s nothing to do all summer, you and your child both miss out on precious growth opportunities.
A bored teen is far more likely to get into trouble than an active teen. A Columbia University study found that teens who are frequently bored are 50 percent more likely to smoke, drink, and use illegal drugs than those not often bored. There is no better way to fill your teen’s summer with healthy activities and confidence-building tasks than summer camp.