The best parenting style? All of them

Whether you’re a new parent or an experienced one, you most likely must have heard of the following terms to describe parenting styles: helicopter, tiger, authoritarian, free-range… the list goes on. Each style is known for their different and unique tactics to raise kids. For example, helicopter parents hover, while free-range parents allow their children freedom with limited supervision.

While Asian countries including Singapore are best known for their authoritarian parenting style, in recent years, we’re seeing a surge in other parenting styles our forefathers would disapprove in an instant. No rules placed on children? Oh, the horror!

In my opinion, the best parenting style is a combination of all of them — because really, is it possible to use only one tactic when it comes to parenting? As parents, we should employ every tool to get through different (and difficult) situations to ensure our little ones grow up the best version of themselves.

So I’d like to think of parenting styles as puzzle pieces that fit together; they should be complementary instead of exclusive. To better understand how they can work together, here are a few popular parenting styles and how to employ them appropriately.

Helicopter Philosophy

Need I explain more? Helicopter parenting is when a parent is extremely involved and overprotective, particularly in school or extracurricular activities. Helicopter parents tend to oversee every aspect of their child’s life, to the point where the child might feel overwhelmed.

How to use it: Many shoot down the helicopter philosophy entirely, but as parents, it’s in our natural instinct to be there for our children in a heartbeat. This parenting style can come in handy when trust is broken, but the key is to always check in with friends or even teachers to ensure you are not in overzealous helicopter mode. Be careful of overzealous helicopter parenting; it can have an effect on children’s self esteem.

Free-Range Philosophy

Free-range parenting is all about giving children the freedom to function independently with limited parental supervision, in accordance to their age. It isn’t about being uninvolved, but allowing kids to build self-sufficiency and skills to be responsible adults.

How to use it: This is usually dependent on a case-by-case basis; but some safe and common ways include plenty of time for unscheduled activities and unstructured play, being in nature and allowing children to take responsibility for their tasks. Depending on age, these tasks could be anywhere from cleaning up after they eat or packing their own snacks.

Authoritarian Philosophy

Authoritarian parenting, often lumped with tiger parenting, is known for high standards and low responsiveness. Parents with this style often have very high expectations of their children, but provide very little feedback and nurturing. Punishments and threats are commonplace.

How to use it: This parenting style should be the last resort and only whipped out when everything else has failed. Most experts typically only use it when children are in a poor mood or lack sleep, and all that’s left is to leave them be till they pull themselves out of it.

Attachment Philosophy

Attachment parenting focuses on nurturing a connection between parent and child. Common characteristics include parental empathy, responsiveness and bodily closeness and touch. This philosophy believes that children with warm, intimate influence often grow up to be confident, responsive, loving and emotionally available individuals.

How to use it: Certainly skin-to-skin contact like giving regular hugs is a good way to enforce attachment parenting. Take your child’s feelings seriously, respond to tantrums with sensitivity instead of punishment, do activities together regularly and work out solutions together. But be careful not to overdo it and feel like you have to meet your child’s every request, which can be counterproductive and tiring.

Snowplow Philosophy

The snowplow parent is one who removes obstacles out of their child’s way and is often likened to helicopter parenting. But unlike the helicopter parent who micromanages out of fear, snowplow parents micromanage so that their kids can succeed. Any pain or difficulties are out of the child’s way.

How to use it: The thing about snowplow parenting is that it can be hard to avoid; we want to be there for our children so they can be successful and happy. I see it more as clearing their pathway, but only enough for them to get true. For example, if there’s a problem at school, I will bring up any concerns and reach out to the teacher for a solution. Once that contact is made and a plan is somewhat suggested, it’s up to the child to take responsibility.

Permissive Philosophy

Permissive parenting is characterised by low demands and high responsiveness. Such parents do not provide a lot of guidelines and rules on the child, tend to be very loving and do not expect the most mature behaviour from the child. A potential problem from permissive parenting is that the child may grow up without self-discipline and with an unrealistic expectation of the world.

How to use it: Permissive parenting should be used sparsely and more as a reward/special treat, like an extra hour of TV after a long week.

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