Our true end of summer is here with the Houghton County Fair running through Sunday.
The fun for me goes beyond the rides, vendors, crafts and animals. I won't have an active part in the fair this year like years past, where I would be working the poultry and rabbit barn or doing some 4-H activity. Our family has a vending booth set up so that my kids have an opportunity to earn some money for personal items and hopefully save a bit for their college education - which is coming faster than I'm ready for.
A different aspect of the fair that piques my interest is in the various parenting styles that are on display. There are three main types of parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative and permissive. The fourth one is a new style and that one is called the non-existent parenting style. The harshest in this group in the authoritarian parenting style - one in which the parent is in complete control. This control demands respect often using threats and severe punishments that in today's day and age could get a parent in trouble if physical punishments are used. I know some will argue with me that they were physically punished and they turned out OK, but they also had to learn a new way to do things in our modern society. The other component to this style is that rewards for achievements are often overlooked with rewards only being given in a form of blackmail. "We won't go to Disney Land if you don't clean your room," being an example.
Another style that goes in the opposite direction is the permissive parenting style. In this situation, the child controls the parent; they do what they want, when they want, with no fear or concern about punishment. Typically, the parent hates confrontation so even when they do try to ground their child the child will ignore them and still do what they want. When I've been asked about how to fix this style or change it, my answer is always the same. From day one they need to know that you are the parent and they are the child, and until that changes rules need to be set and followed.
This leads me to the most appropriate parenting style, and that is of the authoritative parent. The authoritative parent sets limits but gets input from their children. This type of parent recognizes the achievements equal to the troubles or issues their child may be going through. A good example of this is that if their child does well on a report card the praise given should be of equal strength to the attention given if they do poorly. This type of parent sets the example by working toward their goals and encourages their children to do the same.
I'd love to say that this is my style all of the time but it isn't; however, I try.
The last type is the non-existent parenting style. This style is found to happen mostly in people who have children but didn't plan on having children, such as in the case of an unplanned pregnancy. Sometimes in this case, the children are handed over to grandparents or some other caregiver. The jury is still out on what kind of effect this has on kids.
This week while you're at the Houghton County Fair, don't stop and stare at others as they parent their children; take a step back and look at your own style as there's always room from improvement. I'm living proof of that.
Brian Foreman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.