The Fallacy of Tough Love – Queendom.com' Study Reveals That Authoritarian Parenting Can Do More Harm Than Good

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A recent study by Queendom.com and PsychTests.com indicates that child-rearing requires a combination of both love and firmness; focusing on just one creates an unhealthy balance.

Kids need to learn from their mistakes. Let them!

Kids need to learn from their mistakes. Give them the freedom to do so!

Children need their parents to be their leaders, not their friends.

Most parents will agree that setting boundaries and rules is important, but there is a delicate line parents must walk between being firm and being strict. Queendom’s study of 1,234 parents who took their Parenting Style Test reveals that healthy parent-child relationships and well-adjusted children require a different view of “tough love.”

Parenting books may take several chapters to say it, but the basic lesson remains the same: The best of parenting comes from a healthy balance of love or “responsiveness” and firmness. Responsiveness and firmness form the basis of four parenting styles that researchers at Queendom.com assessed:

The Authoritative Parenting Style
Defined by high responsiveness and high firmness, authoritative parents know that raising children requires more than love. These parents set firm rules and boundaries for their children, but also allow some freedom within these limits when the situation calls for it. They have a very warm, encouraging, and supportive relationship with their children, but also set clear standards for their conduct.

The Authoritarian Parenting Style
Defined by high firmness but low responsiveness, authoritarian parents set clear boundaries for their children, and require that they accept rules of conduct without question. They want to make sure that their children are always doing the right thing and therefore, will be very involved in their lives. Love and responsiveness, however, is conditional. To encourage good behavior, authoritarian parents focus on correcting bad behavior.

The Permissive Parenting Style
Defined by high responsiveness and low firmness, permissive parents have lots of love and support to give. They believe that children should be granted freedom, even if it means letting them get away with a lot. Permissive parents rarely, if ever, use punishment to curb inappropriate behavior, and are more tolerant of misbehaving. They prefer to allow their children to be who they want to be.

The Uninvolved Parenting Style
Uninvolved parents are neither firm nor responsive. They do not offer a great deal of support to their children, and often fail to supervise their behavior. They tend to be extremely lenient, to the point of being indifferent to their children’s well-being.

Focusing the first three parenting styles, Queendom’s research on parenting reveals interesting statistics:

1) Parents making themselves available to their children when they are needed:

  •     88% of authoritative parents
  •     25% of authoritarian parents
  •     92% of permissive parents

2) Encouraging self-expression and individuality in their children:

  •     98% of authoritative parents
  •     30% of authoritarian parents
  •     92% of permissive parents

3) Encouraging open communication in their home:

  •     98% of authoritative parents
  •     14% of authoritarian parents
  •     97% of permissive parents

4) Offering praise and admiration so that children will know that they are loved and respected:

  •     98% of authoritative parents
  •     19% of authoritarian parents
  •     88% of permissive parents

5) Believing that children should be disciplined so that they will learn when they have done something wrong:

  •     86% of authoritative parents
  •     86% of authoritarian parents
  •     41% of permissive parents

6) Expecting their children to accept and adopt the parents’ judgements, opinions, and values as their own – without question.

  •     38% of authoritative parents
  •     78% of authoritarian parents
  •     2% of permissive parents

7) Strictly controlling what their children watch on TV, and only allow a limited time of tv-watching.

  •     32% of authoritative parents
  •     58% of authoritarian parents
  •     13% of permissive parents

8) Believing that children should be given constant love and attention, because “childhood is a troubling time.”

  •     80% of authoritative parents
  •     16% of authoritarian parents
  •     81% of permissive parents

9) Loving their children unconditionally:

  •     96% of authoritative parents
  •     31% of authoritarian parents
  •     89% of permissive parents

“Authoritative parents are able to create a balance. They don’t over-compensate, like Permissive parents, and unlike Authoritarian parents, they can be strict without being harsh,” explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “These two traits cannot be separated. Responsiveness and firmness need to both be present in order to create a healthy environment for a child to grow up in – and the data show this.”

In fact, according to Queendom’s research, in spite of the strict rules of conduct set by Authoritarian parents, 19% of them admitted that their children still tend to misbehave (compared to 17% of Permissive parents and 0% for Authoritative). Moreover, notwithstanding their abundance of unconditional love, 86% of Permissive parents rated their relationship with their children as Good, but an additional 12% rated it as Satisfactory and 2% as Poor. Forty-one percent of Authoritarian parents rated their relationship with their kids as Good 27% as Satisfactory, and 32% as poor. Virtually all Authoritative parents (a true 100%) rated their relationship with their offspring as Good.

“Children need their parents to be their leaders, not their friends. In order to raise secure children, we need to offer them unconditional love and support, but ‘helicopter parenting’ is really quite counterproductive. While solid self-esteem is extremely important, so is the ability to deal with setbacks, failures, and pain – both emotional and physical. So to raise driven and resilient children, we need to allow them the freedom to succeed AND to fail, and teach them to take responsibility for their actions. Thus, the key, both for healthy parent-child relationships and for raising well-adjusted children, is not just toughness or love – it’s a balance of both. THAT is how ‘tough love’ should be defined,” concludes Dr. Jerabek.

Those who wish to take the Parenting Style Test can go to: http://www.queendom.com/tests/take_test.php?idRegTest=2857

About Queendom.com:
Queendom.com is a subsidiary of PsychTests AIM Inc. Queendom.com is a site that creates an interactive venue for self-exploration with a healthy dose of fun. The site offers a full range of professional-quality, scientifically-validated psychological assessments that empower people to grow and reach their real potential through insightful feedback and detailed, custom-tailored analysis.

About PsychTests AIM Inc.:
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world (see ARCHProfile.com). PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts. The company’s research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

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Ilona Jerabek, PhD
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