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How much should we expect of our children with regard to self-care and contribution to the family as a toddler, as a young child, as a teenager, and as an adult? This is an ongoing dilemma for most all parents beginning as early as post-infancy and continuing on through adulthood. It is the basis for many conflicts and discipline issues.

Do I expect enough from my child?  Do I expect too much from my child?

The best response to these queries comes from a couple of experts for whom I have very high regard.  Shauna Shapiro, PHD and Chris White, MD.  I often refer parents to their collaborative masterpiece Mindful Discipline-A Loving Approach to Setting Limits & Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, 2016.

In the following excerpt the authors site the research of Diana Baumrind (discussed in Grolnick 2009) which provides some scientific insight.

“In her research, Baumrind identified two primary aspects that were predictive of a child’s well being and capacity for emotionally intelligent self-discipline:

Responsiveness means the parent is able to recognize the child as his own person and to respond in a way that reflects understanding of the child’s desires, feelings, and beliefs, and communicates to the child, ‘I see you, hear you, and feel you, and will do my best to meet your needs.’ 

Demandingness involves asking the child to contribute to the harmony of the family and to her self-care to the degree that she is developmentally capable.  Although this word may sound a little harsh, it simply means asking your children to try and do their best to be respectful and responsible.”

A family works together and each member is responsible for contributing at their own level, but love requires that all contribute.

Fantastic! But what to do with this information?

Well, I have made two handy little charts based on this research showing how use of these two dimensions determines our style of parenting and how our parenting style affects our children.

Two Predictors of Parenting Style

ResponsivenessDemandingness
AuthoritarianLowHigh
PremissivenessHighLow
AuthoritiveHighHigh

Parenting Style and our Child’s Behavior 

Children in Pre-schoolChildren ages 8-9Teen Years
AuthoritarianMore moody, unhappy, more aimless, difficulty getting along with othersLower in achievement, motivation and social assertivenessHigh in seeking adult approval, low motivation and lacking autonomy
PermissivenessLack impulse control, more self centered, low in achievement, motivationLower in cognitive and social competencyLow motivation, lower self regulation, higher rates of drug use than both other parenting styles
AuthoritativeMore energetic, socially outgoing, more independentHigh in achievement, motivation, friendly and socially responsiveHighly individuated, mature, strong in self regulation, remain highly motivated academically

The Authoritative parent is kind, courteous and firm.

While this is a heck of a lot of information for busy parents, I believe any Purposeful Parent would be pleased to obtain it for use as a reference.   It reminds us that our child is indeed an individual with her own desires, emotions and beliefs.  This also remind us that boundaries and expectations are essential but need to be based on the developmental ability of our child. The Authoritative parent knows that balance between the two is the key to emotional/social development.

—For additional information on stages of child development, click here.

About the author

Kate Martin has been a high school teacher for 27 years and retired from the Racine Unified School District in 2015. 

She taught students with special needs as well as those in general education. While working with hundreds of parents over the years, she discovered that there was a significant lack of resources and educational opportunities to help them navigate the many demands of parenting today. 

For this reason, in 2013 she founded The Purposeful Parent, offering workshops and resources for parents, teachers, and caregivers.  

Buy the Book by Kate Martin: The Best Thoughts To Think Five minutes Before Bed