Monday, December 23, 2013

Baumrind's Authoritative Parenting

I have shared the The differences between Conditional mand Unconditional Parenting  . What about Authoritative parenting.? Authoritative Parenting features in Baumrind schema of Parenting styles – Authoritarian , Permissive and in the middle Authoritative parenting style. The parenting author Myrna Shure whose books focus on problem solving said to me that her approach does not fit into any of the categories described by the Baumrind schema. It is clear that authoritative parenting= conditional parenting.

Dr Ross Greene was asked why he did not elaborate on Plan A techniques = helping parents impose their will in a more effective way. He replied that helping parents to make their kids more compliant will get in the way of parents becoming better collaborative problem solvers. When combining approaches kids get 2 different messages and it is confusing. When the going is tough parents tend to fall back on their old ways, because it is easier to punish, give consequences and rewards than to solve problems in a collaborative way

'Authoritative Parenting -is defined as  high in control and warmth; mature demands of and responsiveness to children; allows lots of discussion and considers children's opinions before making final decision; have set rules and guidelines; use rationale and logic when disciplining. 

This sounds good but the reality is that when parents are highly controlling using rewards and punishments, the warmth and empathy becomes rather perfunctory and conditional and kids concerns are not taken seriously. Rules and guidelines are not formulated together with kids but in a unilateral way and discussions are usually about the logic of the 'imposed ' punishments and consequences.

The proof is in Diana Baumrind on writing on parenting. It leans heavily on control through extrinsic motivation and warmth and love is conditional. In his book Unconditional Parenting  and in the articleRethinking Baumrind's autoritative parenting  Alfie Kohn writes the following.

 She describes parenting as being "authoritarian" on one side, "permissive" on the other side, or "authoritative" (read: just right) in the middle. In reality, though, her favored approach, supposedly a blend of firmness and caring, is actually quite traditional and control-oriented -even if less so than Option 1. In fact, a close reading of Baumrind's research raises questions about the recommendations she offers, particularly her endorsement of "firm control."To begin with, Baumrind (1972) has argued against unconditional acceptance of children by their parents, declaring that "the rule of reciprocity, of paying for value received, is a law of life that applies to us all." She continues: "The parent who expresses love unconditionally is encouraging the child to be selfish and demanding" - suggesting that an economic model for human relationships may go hand-in-hand with a dim view of human nature. She also assumes that "structure" in the family requires the use of extrinsic motivators and "contingent reinforcement," which she strongly supports. She approves of spanking, dismisses criticisms of punishment as "utopian," and declares that parents who don't use power to compel obedience will be seen as "indecisive" (Baumrind 1996)
Unfortunately, the research she cites to show that authoritative parenting works best doesn't support any of these positions. Her original findings were interpreted as proving that a combination of warmth and "firm control" (or "enforcement") was optimal. But another researcher who looked at the data carefully (Lewis 1981) discovered that the positive outcomes for children of authoritative parents didn't actually seem to be connected to the use of firm enforcement at all. Kids whose parents were warm but not controlling did just as well as kids whose parents were both - probably, she suggested, because control in the traditional sense isn't required to create structure and predictability as Baumrind (and many others) assumed. By the same token, Baumrind seemed to blur the differences between "permissive" parents who were really just confused and those who were deliberately democratic. There were no problems with the children of the latter parents, suggesting, in the words of another psychologist, that "a close look at Baumrind's actual data may reveal significant support for child-centered parenting" (Crain 2003) even though Baumrind has created a very different impression because she personally opposes that style. Subsequent research using Baumrind's formulation seems to support this view. A huge study of teenagers (Lamborn et al. 1991) did indeed find benefits from what was described as "authoritative" parenting, but that term was defined to mean that parents were aware of, and involved with, their children's lives, not that they were even the least bit punitive or controlling. Another study (Strage and Brandt) similarly cited Baumrind by way of suggesting that parents need to be both supportive and demanding, but it turned out that being demanding when their children were young was unrelated, or even negatively related, to various desirable outcomes. By contrast, the extent to which the parents had been supportive, and also the extent to which they had encouraged their children's independence, had a strong positive relationship to those same outcomes.

Differences between Conditional and Unconditional Parenting

Conditional Parenting
Focus                                                    Behavior
View  of  Human  nature                     Negative
View of Parental Love                         A privilege to be earned
Strategies                                            ''  Doing to ''  - control via rewards , punishments etc

Unconditional Parenting

Focus                                                  Whole child ( including reasons, thoughts, feelings )
View of Human nature                       Positive or balanced
View of Parental love                         A gift
Strategies                                            ''  Working with '' (  collaborative problem solving )

Conditional Parenting or Typical View of Difficult Children:

 Guiding Philosophy: “Children do well if they want to”.
  Explanation: Children’s difficult behavior is attention-seeking or aimed at coercing adults into “giving in”.
 Goal of treatment: Induce children to comply with adult directives.
  Tools of treatment: Use of reward and punishment programs to give children incentive to improve behavior.
 Emphasis: Reactive focus on management of problematic behavior after it has occurred.

Unconditional Parenting -Dr. Greene,  Collaborative Problem Solving Approach  View:
  Guiding Philosophy: “Children do well if they can”.
  Explanation: Children’s difficult behavior is the byproduct of a learning disability in the domains of flexibility, adaptability, and frustration tolerance.
  Goal of treatment: Teach children lacking cognitive and emotional skills.
  Tools of Treatment: Teach children and adults how to work towards mutually satisfactory solutions to problems underlying difficult behavior.
  Emphasis: Proactive focus on solving and preventing problems before they occur.