When our girls were young teens I came across a study about parenting styles. The study indicated that parenting styles are determined by a balance of control and support. A very simplistic explanation of control and support is that control is about the direction, standards, expectations and discipline that we place on our kids. Support is about love, nurture, encouragement and emotional engagement that we provide for our kids. We all parent with a mixture of these two elements.
Low Control and Low Support = Uninvolved Parent
High Control and Low Support = Authoritarian Parent
Low Control and High Support = Permissive Parent
High Control and High Support = Authoritative Parent
The question which is the best style with teens? Studies indicate that teens who have Authoritative parents tended to do the best academically, socially and emotionally. I was shocked that the second best outcome came from the Permissive parent.
Adolescence is a time of huge change for both kids and parents. A faulty belief parents accept in the teen years; our kids don’t really need us anymore. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Students crave a relationship with their parents where they feel their support is as high as the control they exercise. As our students mature, the way we express our support will probably have to change. It seemed to me that during adolescence they tested the boundaries more vigorously than they did as children. There were many discussions surrounding why we set the boundaries we did. It also felt like I had to work a lot harder to express my support / emotional connection than I did when they were kids. It was during adolescence that I instituted a bi-weekly date with dad so I could at least try to express support. It seemed the better I did at support (connecting with them emotionally) the easier it was to exercise control (set healthy boundaries).
When our kids get into their teens they still need our control / boundaries and our support / emotional connection.