Destiny.

I wanted to cry all night. From 6:15 p.m. until the deed was done, I wanted to let all the hurt out. Something about a camel and a straw, though.

My poor brother. Poor me. He’s going to have the same childhood I did, with less support from people around him because so many of the kids on Long Island suck as human beings. I just wish there was something I could do. I’ll write letters, but never with any certainty that they’ll be received. I’ll get pictures, but they’ll never tell me a story.

We finally hit The Lecture tonight. Parenting styles.

I had to “woosah” like 9 times in an hour lest I burst into tears. Here’s the breakdown (from about.com):

The Four Parenting Styles

  1. Authoritarian Parenting
    In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow the strict rules established by the parents. Failure to follow such rules usually results in punishment. Authoritarian parents fail to explain the reasoning behind these rules. If asked to explain, the parent might simply reply, “Because I said so.” These parents have high demands, but are not responsive to their children. According to Baumrind, these parents “are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation” (1991).
  2. Authoritative Parenting
    Like authoritarian parents, those with an authoritative parenting style establish rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow. However, this parenting style is much more democratic. Authoritative parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions. When children fail to meet the expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing. Baumrind suggests that these parents “monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative” (1991).
  3. Permissive Parenting
    Permissive parents, sometimes referred to as indulgent parents, have very few demands to make of their children. These parents rarely discipline their children because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control. According to Baumrind, permissive parents “are more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation” (1991). Permissive parents are generally nurturing and communicative with their children, often taking on the status of a friend more than that of a parent.
  4. Uninvolved Parenting
    An uninvolved parenting style is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication. While these parents fulfill the child’s basic needs, they are generally detached from their child’s life. In extreme cases, these parents may even reject or neglect the needs of their children.

The Impact of Parenting Styles

What effect do these parenting styles have on child development outcomes? In addition to Baumrind’s initial study of 100 preschool children, researchers have conducted numerous other studies than have led to a number of conclusions about the impact of parenting styles on children.

  • Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but they rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.
  • Authoritive parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable and successful (Maccoby, 1992).
  • Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.
  • Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across all life domains. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.

So where do I fit into all of this?  Without any question, I can ascertain that my father’s method of parenting is authoritarian. In class, when the question came up of “which parent’s style holds more weight?” my teacher suggested that research pointed to that parent which the child interacts with more. I, however, disagree. When your other parent is somewhere between uninvolved and permissive (mostly because the authoritarian parent was authoritarian over their spouse as well), it doesn’t matter who you interact with more. The one that does the most damage is the one that gets the emphasis. Then again, I’m often an individual difference.

And now…my brother is trapped in the same fate. My father’s parenting style hasn’t changed (I would know; when I commented on it, he “punished” me by banning me from his family), and my stepmother is, unquestionably, permissive. She claims to pick her battles, but I’m not entirely sure she’s picking enough of them.

I wouldn’t give two shits if he didn’t mean the absolute world to me. And I suppose my father’s plan backfired, because now I have no additional information to contradict my original opinion due to my expulsion, and I’m still sitting here writing about it publicly. And I wouldn’t feel like such an authority on the subject matter if I didn’t live through it and hate every single second of it, both now and then. “Because I said so,” isn’t a reason. Yelling my name in a scary tone doesn’t help me adjust autonomously. Fuck my childhood and everything about it. But don’t ruin Kellen’s.

So here’s my new “blackboard discussion post”: What do you do when parents think their parenting styles are just dandy, and their child’s low self-esteem is attributable to something more internal?  The epitome of perpetuation.

Now that I’ve successfully avoided discussing the straw, me, my low self-esteem and poor self-regulation issues are going to have yet another glass of wine, try to find something more mind-erasing to consume or occupy the next few hours, and hope for some of sleep before the last class of the week.

Good night, internets.

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