What Is Good Parenting?


Parenting  can be satisfying and fulfilling. But it can also be difficult and  time-consuming. Parents must tend to an infant or child’s daily needs.  They are also responsible for helping each of their children develop  life skills. These skills include daily living skills, social skills,  and appropriate behaviors. Parents with more than one child must account  for the personalities of each, as well.

New parents, overwhelmed parents, and parents facing mental health conditions may benefit from the support of a mental health professional. A therapist or counselor can help parents through  difficult situations or behavioral concerns.

What Is Good Parenting?

From the moment a pregnancy or adoption  is announced, most parents receive many suggestions on how to raise  their child. Pediatricians provide information to new parents about the  health and safety of infants. Media sources offer extensive and often  conflicting advice on parenting. Family members may have varying  opinions on what is best for a child.

New parents may feel overwhelmed by parenting information and advice.  They may be unsure of what is best for their child. So they may turn to  a pediatrician, therapist, or other specialist for advice. Experts in  child psychology and development generally agree no one method of  parenting is “best.” Parents may wish to try different parenting styles  to see what works for their family.

Research generally backs the advice given by pediatricians and other  health professionals. For example, they encourage parents to place  infants to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant  Death Syndrome (SIDS). Other advice may be less valid. Parents may wish  to speak to an expert before following advice that makes them  uncomfortable in any way. 

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development states parents are generally responsible for:

  • Keeping children safe
  • Listening to children and spending time with them
  • Providing affection, order, and consistency
  • Setting and enforcing limits for children
  • Monitoring friendships children make
  • Seeking help for any medical or behavioral concerns

The Challenges of Parenting

Raising a child can be difficult for many reasons. Some common challenges parents face include:

  • Providing consistent care
  • Attending to the needs of an infant or toddler
  • Maintaining adult relationships
  • Financial difficulties
  • Feeling rushed or “out of time”
  • Scheduling and planning children’s days
  • Lack of sleep

A parent who stays home with a child or children may feel overworked.  They may resent the other parent for working outside the home. This can  strain a partnership. Parenting is also often physically demanding.  Parents with young children may spend much of their day performing  household tasks.

Parenting may become more difficult when a child shows signs of  behavior issues. Parenting may also become more complex if the child has  a physical or intellectual disability.  It can be hard to cope when a child needs extensive medical treatment  or other extra care. Parents may find it difficult to give their  children equal attention. This may cause some parents to feel guilt and greater levels of stress.

Research highlights some factors in parenting that can increase  behavior problems. One of these is when parents are not united. This may  mean they do not communicate  well. It can send confusing messages to children. Kids may be unsure of  what their parents expect of them. They may react to inconsistent  parenting with misbehavior. Child psychologists emphasize the importance  of being a cohesive parenting team.

The Four Parenting Styles

Many experts recognize four parenting styles: 

  • Authoritative. This is considered the most  effective form of parenting for most children. Authoritative parents  have high expectations and goals for their kids. These are tempered with  an understanding of their kids' limits. These parents are willing to  communicate flexibly. This can make parent-child communication easier.
  • Neglectful. Neglectful parenting can mean a lack  of time spent with the child. Neglectful parents may be unfamiliar with  their kids' teachers and friends. They may not care for their kids'  basic needs. This type of parenting is rarely practiced on purpose. It’s  important to recognize if you or someone you know has this parenting  style. This type of parenting can be damaging to kids long-term.  
  • Permissive. Permissive parents are nurturing,  loving, and supportive. But they can take this too far. Permissive  parents may avoid conflict at any cost. They rarely enforce their own  rules. Doing this can be harmful for children, as they thrive on  routine.
  • Authoritarian. Authoritarian is not the same as  authoritative parenting. Authoritarian parents are strict and demanding  with their children. Their parenting style is not often flexible. They  generally rely on punishment to maintain obedience. There is rarely room  for open communication between parents and kids. 

Each style represents a different parenting mindset. Knowing which  style you are can help you approach conflict in a healthy way. You may  also identify which style you would like to be. You can even learn about  which style your partner is. Recognizing your parenting styles can also  help you communicate with your partner.

The Influence of Parents

A parent is often the most influential person in a child’s life. Even  after the child grows up, they may look to their parents for guidance.  They may ask for advice on ethical issues as well as the typical  concerns of daily life. A parent’s behavior and beliefs can influence  those of their children. This is especially the case during a child’s  early years. The biases of a parent are often learned by the child.

Children can overhear parents using language that implies a certain  group of people is inferior to other groups. Parents may share stigmatizing  beliefs about others. Children can adopt these attitudes as part of  their own beliefs. Parents' religious and political views often become  the child’s views. These views can change when the child is old enough  question belief systems. Some parents strongly encourage a child to  support their own beliefs. This may cause trouble if parents discourage  their child from thinking about new ideas. This can cause children to  develop a limited worldview. They may be less likely to seek out other  viewpoints in adulthood.

Children also learn attitudes of acceptance from parents. Parents can  raise kids who do not discount the ideas and viewpoints of others. This  can allow children to grow up to be open to different people and new  experiences.

The Limitations of Parents

A parent’s influence can be limited. Children may learn new ideas from friends, from the media, and at school. Trauma may also impact a child’s development or behavior. Peer pressure  can lead a child to develop problematic behavior. This may happen  regardless of a parent’s efforts to keep the child safe. Many parents  choose to use their own parents’ style or method of parenting. They may  believe what worked for them will work for their own children. But each  child and family is different. One method of parenting may not work for  all children.

Many parents continue to offer support and guidance to their adult  children. This may especially be the case of a child who is coping with a  chronic or temporary issue. But some adult children resent what they  see as continued parental influence. These adult children may refuse  assistance. Some children may engage in risky or destructive behavior.  Parents may be unable to reach them or unsuccessful when encouraging  them to seek help. This powerlessness is likely to be difficult and  distressing for parents. A therapist or other mental health professional  can help parents learn to cope with this. Therapists may also help  parents learn how to reach out to their children, when possible.

Some parents cope with issues outside the home or in their personal relationships. They may struggle with finances or health.  These parents may find the challenges of parenting more stressful or  hard to cope with. This may also be true if it is the child who is  facing an issue.

Single Parenting

Single parent households are  becoming common in the United States. Some parents are single by choice.  Others may lose a spouse or partner through death or separation.  A single parent often experiences increased stress. This can be due to a  greater amount of parenting responsibility. When a parent suddenly  becomes single, children may have trouble coping. This can lead to  behavioral difficulties.

Divorced parents may share custody  of children. The children may find rules and routines differ from one  house to the next. This inconsistency can be difficult for them to adapt  to. Newly single parents might find it harder to enforce rules without  support. They may also experience the added stress of financial  difficulties.

Single parents may find it hard to  meet potential romantic partners or go on dates. This can be even harder  for parents of small children.These parents may feel isolated and lonely. They may also have a higher risk for anxiety or depression.

There are ways single parents can cope with challenges. Some of these include:

  • Staying connected with relatives and friends
  • Creating a support network
  • Making time for self-care and childcare 
  • Enrolling children in after school programs

These tips may help single parents  cope with challenges and reduce stress in their lives. A therapist may  be able to help address specific concerns.


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  3. Hansen, A. (2013, September 3). The mysterious and alarming rise of  single parenthood in America. Retrieved from  http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/09/the-mysterious-and-alarming-rise-of-single-parenthood-in-america/279203
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