Friday, 24 March 2017

What Kind Of Parent Are You?

There are so many labels put on parenting styles these days. Tiger Mom, Helicopter Parent, Yummy Mummy ... It's hard to know which labels are meaningful and which are just a stick to beat parents with!

I've been offered the opportunity to take part in the Attachment Parenting UK Positive Discipline online course, and so far it has been fascinating. The second module of the course involves filling in a questionnaire to identify your parenting style. This gets away from all the animal/transport comparisons and snappy monikers and focusses in on three major types of parent - Autocratic, Permissive and Democratic.

I don't want to go into too much detail here as the course does a far better job of explaining these styles than I could. But in simple terms, Autocratic parenting involves lots of rules and 'tough love' without much warmth; Permissive parenting is all about the love but falling short on the boundaries; and Democratic parenting is a respectful combination of warmth and boundaries. You'll probably have guessed that option 3 is the one to aim for.

When I was filling in the questionnaire, it was tempting to put down what I thought would be the 'right' answers to get the result I wanted - namely, saying that I'm a wonderfully democratic parent. But I stuck to the truth and found it to be revealing.

The good news is that Democratic came out on top! Yay, maybe I'm not doing too bad a job after all!

However, it wasn't as straightforward as that. The questionnaire was split into 15 questions on parenting beliefs, and 15 questions on parenting behaviours. While my beliefs were predominantly in the Democratic camp (10 points ahead of both Autocratic and Permissive) my behaviours were far more mixed. The scores here were very close together, with Permissive coming out on top and Democratic bottom. Oops.

If I'm honest with myself, this doesn't surprise me much. I think it's very easy to doubt your parenting beliefs and instincts when push comes to shove (sometimes literally). Much as I would like to respond with empathy every time, when I've just been hit or called a name I'll waver in my convictions and think that some 'tough love' is needed. And sometimes when energy is lacking I'll give in rather than sticking to a boundary. While gentle parenting (or Positive Discipline, or whatever you want to call it) sounds wonderful in theory, in practice it is easy to get stuck in a cycle of letting things slide for an easy life then clamping down when things turn nasty.

I found the questionnaire really useful in highlighting how I'm muddling my parenting styles up at the moment. But as the course leader Michelle says in the introduction, this isn't a tool to beat ourselves up with - it's a way of understanding where we are right now so we can know how to change.

I'm really looking forward to taking the rest of the course, hopefully it will help me to unmuddle my parenting styles and become a model Democratic parent! OK, probably not model ... I'll be writing about my progress on the course in the coming weeks so watch this space!

Would you be interested in taking the Attachment Parenting UK Positive Discipline course? APUK are kindly offering my readers a 50% discount on the course! Just use the code theishmother50 when signing up through the above link.

DISCLAIMER: I was offered an opportunity to take the Positive Discipline course for free, however all views and words in this post are my own.


  1. I too took the course and came out with the same outcome-democratic in theory, permissive in practice. I am finding it so interesting to learn more about child behaviour (and myself). Have you finished the course yet?

    1. I'm still working through the course but finding it really interesting. I'm relieved to hear I'm not the only one to get mixed results in the questionnaire!