A few years ago, I was a new mum, naive, and grossly unprepared for the truckload of unsolicited advice received from (‘well-meaning’) older relatives and friends. Confused and feeling quite inadequate, I tried my best to implement everything I was told – only to realise that half the advice I received cancelled the other half.
“Hold your baby as much as you can” vs “Iderrihx l-idejn” Don’t hold him too much as he’ll get used to it.
“Feed your baby on demand” vs “Put him on a schedule from day one.”
“Slather his bum in diaper cream every time you change him” vs “There’s no need to apply diaper cream.”
Breathe in… Breathe out…
I nodded and okayed my way through the newborn days, without the energy to argue or research the ‘right’ way, trusting my instinct instead.
At that stage, I had no idea of the different parenting styles out there. You care for your baby the way it feels natural to you. But then we started attending a mum and baby playgroup and, boy, was I surprised. Suddenly, it wasn’t just about unsolicited advice, this was parenting in practice, and there were many ways to go about it.
Before we go into the parenting styles that are super easy to spot, let’s go into the four categories of how experts differentiate parenthood. No pressure, but the way we parent affects our children for the rest of their lives and there’s plenty of studies on that when it comes to the below four.
1. Authoritarian/ Disciplinarian Parenting
This type of parenting is based on strict discipline, with little negotiation, and punishments as a direct consequence of bad behaviour. Parents adopt a one way communication method with the child and rules are set without any explanation as to why they’re being set. Authoritarian parents have high expectations of their children, with limited flexibility.
2. Permissive Parenting
Permissive parents set limited to no rules. The child is allowed to figure problems out on their own. The parents adopt an open communication method, letting the child decide without any direction from the adult. The relationship between parent and child is more like a friendship, rather than a parent-child relationship. These types of parents have minimal or no expectations of their children.
3. Uninvolved Parenting
In this parenting style, the child is given total freedom. The parent fulfils basic needs, but provides little nurturing, with few or no expectations for their child.
4. Authoritative parenting
Authoritative parenting is based on a close, nurturing relationship between the parent and the child. Rules are set, but these are explained. There’s frequent communication delivered to the child’s understanding. These types of parents set high, clear expectations for their children, set together with them.
If you’re interested in finding out which of these parenting styles best describes you, check out this Parenting Style Questionnaire based on an article published in the journal Psychological Reports.
What’s Your Parenting Style?
Now for a more practical approach, below is a quiz on four very common types of parenting styles which are also popular amongst Maltese parents.
Grade each of the statements below from 1 to 5 – 1 being ‘Never’ and 5 being ‘Always’. Add up the total for each style and the one with the highest score reflects your parenting style!
- You’re constantly monitoring your child’s behaviour, beyond what’s age appropriate
- You set high standards for school and other activities
- You’re ready to pull strings for special treatment for your child
- When your child is asked a question, you answer on their behalf
- You’re involved in every decision of your child (regardless of age)
- You assist or complete your child’s projects for a better grade
(Who knows if the latest Eurostat figures are testament to this kind of parenting?)
- You set and enforce healthy, age-appropriate boundaries
- You practice firm, yet kind discipline
- Communication with your child is important to you
- You approach misbehaviour with empathy and try to understand why your child acted that way
- You’re respectful towards your child
- You use positive reinforcement, both when encouraging or discouraging your child’s actions
- You give freedom and responsibility gradually, as it is earned
- You encourage outdoor play, away from screens
- You don’t prioritize scheduling
- You encourage your child to explore and try new things
- You let your child be a child
- You allow your child to experience the natural consequences of their behaviour, as long as it’s safe
- You believe the first six weeks are integral for parent-child bonding and you go for a lot of skin-to-skin contact
- You keep your child as close to your body as possible, for example, by baby wearing
- You co-sleep or share a bed
- You strongly believe in breastfeeding
- You immediately respond when the baby cries
- You use positive reinforcement and gentle guidance to discipline your child
So, what kind of Maltese parent are you?
Chances are, your parenting style is a mix of the above. Ultimately, there’s no one right way to parent, follow your instinct and do what works best for you and your child.
For more articles and stories written by local parents, for local parents, check out our Island Parents section.