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2 Key Factors That Influence Your Parenting Style

Author: Deanna Mascle
Published: 4 December 2005

Being a parent is the toughest job you'll ever love!

I know that I love being a Mom but I also know how tough it is. I am comforted in knowing that I'm not the only one challenged by this role (certainly every parent I've ever talked to has questions and concerns) and I'm always seeking more information to help me be a better parent.

One concept that really helped me define my own parenting style involves identifying the two key factors that impact parenting style -- these are simply the level of control and the level of warmth involved in your relationship with your child.

Control refers simply to how much power you exercise over your child's behavior. Do you have strict rules that your child is expected to obey? How do you respond to disobedience?

Warmth does not mean the intensity of your love for your child but rather how it is demonstrated. Do you frequently (at several points during the day) show your love to your child through kisses and cuddles, time spent in a joint activity, and words of love and praise?

Your parenting style is then reflected by combining these two factors together to form one of four parenting types:

High Control - High Warmth

Low Control - High Warmth

High Control - Low Warmth

Low Control - Low Warmth

Obviously this is oversimplified as parents don't fall 100 percent into any category and certainly circumstances and events alter how a parent reacts.

For example, I would consider my husband and I both high control but there is certainly a variation in the level of control we exert. Also, where we are and what we are doing impacts the level of control that I exert. I have a certain expectation of behavior at church, for example, and am a little less rigid when visiting friends. At home, if I have work to do then I am pretty strict about behavior but when it is play time then I relax the rules a bit.

Similarly, I would rate both my husband and I as high warmth but we demonstrate that warmth very differently. I often kiss and cuddle our son as well as express my love verbally through loving words and appreciation. My husband does kiss and cuddle, but on a much more restricted basis; however they will spend time playing together just the two of them every day and they have several little rituals that reinforce their strong bond.

Taking a look at these two key factors and applying them to your relationship with your child can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a parent which can then in turn help you identify what needs to be improved. After all, as a parent your end goal is to raise a happy, healthy, successful child and to reach that goal you need to be the best parent you can be.

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