Journey Through Parenting Styles: Insights from a Social Worker’s Perspective
Navigating the intricate terrain of parenting inevitably prompts the timeless question: What constitutes the best parenting style? Drawing from my extensive experience as a Social Worker, I’ve had the privilege of intimately engaging with families from diverse backgrounds, each crafting its unique narrative threaded with cultural nuances, values, and distinct challenges.
Families, whether willingly seeking professional help or grappling with crises that demand external support, often find themselves wrestling with the elusive notion of the ideal parenting approach. Does a universal method truly exist? Many families I’ve worked with have traversed through a myriad of strategies gleaned from self-help literature and parenting seminars, often expressing frustration at the perceived impracticality of ‘textbook advice’ in their lived realities and its seeming unsuitability for their distinctive children.
In a world awash with information, where debates range from bottle feeding philosophies to establishing boundaries for teen social media usage, I advocate for simplicity in the parenting discourse. It’s easy to become ensnared in the minutiae of specific practices, which is why I consistently encourage families to step back and contemplate the overarching narrative of their parenting journey.
In moments of profound reflection, I often turn to the insightful framework meticulously laid out by Barbara Coloroso. A luminary in parenting, teaching, and conflict resolution, Coloroso delineates three distinct parenting styles: brickwall, jellyfish, and backbone.
This style is characterized by an authoritarian and rigid approach. Parents adopting the brickwall style emphasize strict adherence to rules and regulations without much room for negotiation understanding. The focus is on control, often resulting in a more punitive disciplinary approach.
Authoritarian Approach: Expecting unwavering obedience, brickwall parents maintain a strict, rule-driven environment.
Emphasis on Control: The parenting style places a high premium on control, potentially stifling a child’s individuality.
Little Flexibility: Rules are enforced without consideration for the unique needs or circumstances of the child.
The jellyfish parenting style is characterized by permissiveness and a lack of clear boundaries. Parents adopting this approach may find it challenging to enforce rules consistently, leading to a sense of unpredictability for the child.
Lack of Boundaries: Jellyfish parents may be lenient with rules and consequences, potentially avoiding conflict to maintain a peaceful environment.
Overly Indulgent: There is a tendency to be overly indulgent and lenient in response to the child’s desires or requests.
Inconsistency: Rules and consequences may be applied inconsistently, leading to confusion for the child about expectations.
The backbone parenting style strikes a balance between firmness and nurturing. Parents adopting this approach set clear, reasonable expectations for their children. They provide structure, guidance, and consistent consequences for behaviour but do so in a way that is supportive and loving.
Clear Expectations: Backbone parents communicate clear rules and expectations, promoting a sense of structure.
Nurturing Environment: While enforcing rules, they create an environment of warmth and support, emphasizing the importance of love and connection.
Open Communication: There is an emphasis on open communication and a willingness to listen to the child’s perspective, fostering a healthy parent-child relationship.
Recognizing the dynamic nature of parenting, I accentuate the importance of flexibility, urging parents to consider their child’s developmental stage and unique individuality. Barbara Coloroso’s endorsement of the “backbone” style underscores the significance of balancing discipline with love for a child’s holistic development.
In my professional role, I steadfastly prioritize delving into the essence of parenting—the core values and aspirations of each family. I guide them toward a broader perspective, encouraging exploration and the discovery of their authentic parenting style. For those seeking deeper insights, Barbara Coloroso offers a rich array of resources, including books and presentations, while professionals stand ready to provide hands-on, tailored assistance for specific situations. This nuanced understanding of parenting styles provides families with a valuable framework for self-reflection, growth, and the cultivation of healthy parent-child relationships.
Ania Harnden completed training with the “EMDR Training Australia and New Zealand”, a training provider that presents an EMDR training program authorised by Dr Francine Shapiro and her training institute, the EMDR Institute. Ania Harnden is a member of EMDR International Association (EMDRIA).
To book an appointment with Ania, select Online Booking or call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.
Coloroso, B. (1995). Kids Are Worth It!: Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline. New York, NY: Avon Books.