“Parenting is arguably the most loving, heartbreaking, rewarding, disappointing, exciting, repetitive and ever changing experience a human can have,” says Elizabeth Jordan, a behavioural analyst and mum of five. “No one is prepared, no classes are taught on basics dos and don’ts and even more surprising, every child requires their own personal approach – it’s not like if you figure it out with the first kid, you’re guaranteed to get it right with the second.”
Jordan goes on to say what many of us fear (!): the reality is that despite all potential desires to mold children into exactly who we want them to be – we can’t. “Each child comes prepackaged with their own set of characteristics and personalities. You can’t make them be someone they aren’t no matter how much you scream and yell, buy them gifts or even ignore what you don’t like.”
However, what you can do, she says, is consider what YOU do as a parent and think about how your response to them will shape their existing personality to be better. “How you respond to your child’s behaviour and model your own behaviour is everything in helping him or her take those prepackaged unique traits and make the most of them. If you model discipline your child is more likely to be disciplined. If you model compassion, your child is more likely to be compassionate. If you model inconsistency, if you tolerate bad behaviour, if you look the other way too much or don’t show up when you need to – well your child is likely to follow suit as well. That’s a lot of pressure no doubt, but no one ever told you this job would be easy.”
Jordan notes that according to psychologist Dianne Baumrind’s work back in the 1960s, there are four simple types of parenting archetypes. She has renamed them to help make them more understandable in 2022.
The Fair Judge
“Inspired by my friend who’s an actual judge and super Mum boasting amazing results with her kind and hardworking kids). A Fair Judge puts a considerable amount of effort into creating and maintaining a positive relationship with their child. They explain the reasons behind their rules, and while they enforce the rules and give consequences, they take their child’s feelings into consideration.
Children who have Fair Judge parents are more likely to grow up to be responsible individuals who are confident in expressing their opinions. They are also more likely to be happy and successful, and are better capable of making independent decisions and assessing safety risks.”
“Inspired by Stalin, Lenin, Mao and Hitler who painfully taught us what NOT to do. A Dictator is incredibly strict in their parenting. They believe it’s “my way or the highway” and they do not take their child’s feelings into consideration.
Because their feelings or opinions aren’t appreciated, children of Dictator parents are more likely to suffer self-esteem issues. They may also become aggressive or confrontational, and they may develop a habit of lying to avoid punishment.”
The Permissive Parent
“Inspired by genuinely loving and well-intended parents who are on their knees in the supermarket begging for their kids to stop screaming simultaneously dumping more candy in their shopping cart. A Permissive Parent sets rules but rarely enforces them, and they offer very little consequences for misbehavior.
Kids raised by Permissive Parents are more likely to struggle academically and may have behavioural issues due to a dislike of authority figures. They often have low self-esteem and may suffer from depression.”
The Absent Parent
“Inspired by those parents who never read James Halliwell 1886 fable ‘The Three Little Pigs:’
Winter is coming and
If you were absent taking time to build your house of bricks,
You’re screwed come winter
In your straw house when the snowstorm hits.
An Absent Parent is just that- absent from their child’s life. They rarely spend time with their child, they don’t ask their child about school or homework, and they may not even know where their child is or who they are with.
Children who have Absent Parents are more prone to suffer from low self-esteem and depression. They also tend to suffer academically and exhibit behavioural issues.”
Clearly the only lane that you should focus on staying in as a parent is the Fair Judge. “This is the most time-consuming of the four parenting styles, the one that requires fair and sometimes tedious cross-examination, collection of facts and evidence, focused listening and consideration of both your child’s and other witnesses’ accounts of behaviour, etc. Just like a real judge up on a stand, you must consider all the facts of a circumstance and make a final ruling that’s based on compassion and real understanding of the situation. This ruling is not static, once it’s decided unless new evidence is presented, it’s set in stone. The child learns quickly negotiating is a waste of time. You’ve done the work and made your ruling.
Now, parenting often begins early in the morning before one’s first cup of coffee or before a ‘five o’clock somewhere’ cocktail, so the probability of slipping into one of the less desirable easier yet more damaging parenting archetypes now and again – is expected. No one is perfect. But consider being more mindful of these four archetypes, and staying aware of how far you’ve drifted or close your behaviour resembles The Fair Judge. Take note of how your child’s behaviour improves when you find your way back into your fair judge lane. If this theory is right, you might just have found the most probable solution to helping your children become their happiest, best and ultimately independent selves. It’s certainly worth a try.”