What type of parent are you? According to many learned and well qualified psychologist, there are essentially 4 parenting styles that I’ve clarified for those who enjoy comparing life to art (and yes comics count as art):
Darth Vader (Authoritarian): Vader parents, much like their namesake, are givers of no intergalactic dambs. They aren’t warm, are very controlling, and aren’t afraid to punish their spawns for the slighted of infractions to ensure their status as ruler of their universe household remains intact. There is no discussion, there is no explanation, and you obey the rules of their starship or face laser marks across your buttocks and/or endless nights in the dungeon of their own financing.
Professor X (Authoritative): X-Men parents encourage independence while setting clear boundaries for the care and protection of their little mutants. Though the ultimate responsibility of leadership and guidance falls on the Professor parent, authoritative parents engage their children in an equitable fashion through discussion, in hopes of teaching competent and responsible behavior.
Willy Wonka (Permissive): Chocolate factory parents are warm, passive and lenient; they often don’t set consequences for misbehavior. Permissive parents play the friend role and only step in when the situation has become extreme, but by that time the Oompa-loompas in blue could already be rolling their offspring to jail.
Mr. Freeze (Uninvolved): Distant to the point of neglect, Uninvolved parents are self-centered, cold and indifferent to the needs of their child. This type of parent might have a “why should I care,” or “I give up” attitude toward their offspring because they are more focused on their own lives and aren’t invested in parenting. Chill Parenting
There is an alternately defined parenting style framed by yours truly called Chill parenting. Chill parenting requires a parent to be a little self-centered, at times authoritarian, occasionally permissive, and consistently authoritative:
- In a decade or so, daughter may want to go to a party with drugs and kids with no future curfew sadly, she will find my inner Vader regulating on her life wants.
- My son might really want a car the moment he is 16, he may find The Professor waiting and willing to help if he proves his salt in saving, performing well academically and showing the necessary maturity levels.
- If my daughter becomes inspired and decides finger paints may add to my home décor, I may go Wonka on her and give her a slap on the wrist and buy an easel set alternative (because I want to encourage her artistic side).
- I may also go through a personal life crisis or have an incrediblly demanding career defining project for work and channel my inner mad scientist, and ask my husband to play single dad for a week while I get my mess together.
Parenting is not a science (but a truly awesome art), and we are only human, we could fall into any one of the parenting styles in any given situation. The truth is, even being a chill parent takes regular self-assessment, I continuously ask myself, “am I the parent my child needs at the moment?” Parenting is an interpersonal world filled with alternate universes that require you to be hero, villain, narrator and bystander; sometimes all in the same week.
Being a parent is about allowing yourself and your children to be happy in the here and now while preparing for the future. It’s not about perfection or formality, but about creating an environment where kids learn, grow, and thrive without accidentally killing themselves by sticking a knife into an electrical socket.