How you were raised can affect how you parent
Parents are deeply shaped by the experiences they grew up in and were surrounded by–which can often be overlooked (or even forgotten) as they strive to create a healthy home environment for their children and teenagers. Our newest offering, Nurturing Mental Health for Gen Z: A Handbook for Parents, offers a space for parents to explore how their childhoods may be impacting how they parent.
Whether a person had two parents, one parent, adoptive parents, or were raised by other adults, how they were parented affects identity formation, self-perception, and interactions with others. Perhaps more important, a person’s interactions with those who raised them color the relationship they have with their children. In fact, researchers have shown that the parenting styles and approaches to discipline parents use can at least be partially predicted from those their own parents used.
Researchers Terrence Sanvictores and Magda Mendez detailed these descriptions of four common parenting styles:
Parents of this style tend to have a one-way mode of communication where the parent establishes strict rules that the child obeys. There is little to no room for negotiations from the child, and the rules are not usually explained. They expect their children to uphold these standards while making no errors. Mistakes usually lead to punishment. Authoritarian parents are normally less nurturing and have high expectations with limited flexibility.
This type of parent normally develops a close, nurturing relationship with their children. They have clear guidelines for their expectations and explain their reasons associated with disciplinary actions. Disciplinary methods are used as a way of support instead of punishment. Not only can children have input into goals and expectations, but there are also frequent and appropriate levels of communication between the parent and their child. In general, this parenting style leads to the healthiest outcomes for children but requires a lot of patience and effort on both parties.
Permissive parents tend to be warm, nurturing and usually have minimal or no expectations. They impose limited rules on their children. Communication remains open, but parents allow their children to figure things out for themselves. These low levels of expectation usually result in rare uses of discipline. They act more like friends than parents.
Children are given a lot of freedom as this type of parent normally stays out of the way. They fulfill the child’s basic needs while generally remaining detached from their child’s life. An uninvolved parent does not utilize a particular disciplining style and has a limited amount of communication with their child. They tend to offer a low amount of nurturing while having either few or no expectations of their children.
Parents can use prompts like these below from our handbook to examine their own childhoods.
Describe your relationship with your parents or the adults who raised you at the time you were the age of your young person.
- What was their parenting style?
- What did they do well, and where did the challenges or friction lie?
- How do you feel about the way they raised you?
After reflecting on these questions, consider thinking through the answers to these additional prompts from zerotothree.org – exploring your own childhood experiences can help you become more aware of some of the motivations and meaning behind how you parent.
- In what ways do you feel your parents had a positive impact on you—that you would like to do with your own child?
- Was there anything about your parents’ approach to raising you that you don’t want to recreate with your child?
- Are there any significant events or experiences in your childhood that had an impact on you and that now may be influencing your parenting? For example: the loss of a loved one, parental separation or divorce, significant tension between parents, financial insecurity, parental mental health issues, or parental substance abuse.
See more prompts to explore your own childhood experiences and better understand how you parent in our Handbook for Parents.
Kerr, D.C.R., Capaldi, D.M., Pears, K.C. & Owen, L.D. (2009). A prospective three generational study of fathers’ constructive parenting: influences from family of origin, adolescent adjustment, and offspring temperament. Developmental Psychology, 45(5), 1257-1275. doi: 10.1037/a0015863. PMID: 19702390; PMCID: PMC2742381.
Sanvictores, T., Mendez, M.D. (2023). Types of Parenting Styles and Effects On Children. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK568743/
The past is present: The impact of your childhood experiences on how you parent today. (2016, April 29). https://www.zerotothree.org/resource/the-past-is-present-the-impact-of-your-childhood-experiences-on-how-you-parent-today/