Before I get into the ins and outs of a "Balanced" parent (also called a Democratic, Active, or Equalitarian parent), a brief history lesson is in order.
DON'T LEAVE YET.
Based on what year your protagonists were born (or their parents were born), this information will actually be useful to figuring out which type of parenting style he or she most likely grew up with.
Children born before and during the 1950s most likely grew up with the Over-Controlling parenting styles (Power Patrol or Micromanager). Those generations resembled society in that there was a clear-cut pecking order. The father (man) was the supreme ruler, and mother was to be obedient to him, while children were to be obedient to both of them. This led to some awful things like child abduction and sexual victimization because children were taught to blindly obey authorities at the expense of their own rights.
By the 1960s, though, there was a major shift in society, from a superior/inferior structure to an emphasis on equal rights and self-worth. Civil rights became front and center, and children (especially teenagers) resented adults telling them what to do. They wanted to voice their opinions (loudly, and with music), and Over-Controlling parenting didn't allow for such individuality. Teens turned to drugs and the "sexual revolution" to escape and rebel, and parents had no idea what to do. Professionals who tried to help encouraged parents to loosen the reins, which swung the pendulum to permissive, Under-Controlling (Avoiders or Over-Indulgers) parenting.
These same teenagers of the 60s blamed their parents and authority figures for their problems. As a result, they vowed to raise their children differently and went to the other extreme in their parenting. By the 1980s, the problems in the 60s had reached epidemic proportions. Drug use had increased, teenage pregnancy, AIDS, gangs/violence, sexual victimization...all a result of permissive, Under-Controlling parenting.
The pendulum began to swing back toward Over-Controlling parenting as a way to gain control, but since both styles resulted in negative results for children and society. So it's wise to avoid both of these extremes, because they are inbalanced, and aim for Balanced parenting.
What do Balanced parents believe? They believe that their job is to teach children the life skills they need to be self-sufficient, responsible members of society. They believe that children are equal in worth and dignity, and that they deserve to be treated with respect. They want children to learn how to meet their own needs and not be unnaturally dependent on their parents to do so. They encourage children to learn from their mistakes and avoid blaming or criticizing them. Children are unique, not little Mini-Mes of the parent or balls play dough to mold into what the parent thinks they should be.
How do Balanced parents discipline? Balanced parents try to prevent discipline by telling children what they can do instead of what they can't. They focus on the value of a rule rather than the power of the rule-maker. They teach behavior skills, and then reveal to their children what the possible outcomes of their behaviors could be. Children misbehave and the parent tries to consider their child's goal and help them meet their goal through a more positive behavior. If the child still chooses to behave inappropriately, Balanced parents allow the revealed outcome to happen. They use logical and natural consequences for misbehavior and don't add suffering or verbal abuse to their punishments.
Long-Term Effects (obviously all of these will be positive):
1) Children learn how to operate within limitations and rules.
2) Children make responsible decisions and now how to be responsible.
3) Children are self-motivated/self-disciplined.
4) Children have excellent leadership and communication skills.
5) Children have good time management and organizational skills.
6) Children are less likely to rebel against authority.
So this wraps up our parenting series. If you missed the quiz somehow, and are totally confused about what I'm talking about, go here to take the quiz and find out what style you or your characters are. Ideally, learning about parenting styles will help you portray your protagonists' (or antagonists') backgrounds and histories more realistically...to understand what type of family they came from. Hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.
If you have any other ideas for series for the Thursday Therapeutic Thoughts, I'm all ears.
If you haven't left a comment to be entered to win Roseanna White's A Stray Drop of Blood (drawing will be on Palm Sunday for this terrific Easter-themes book), then click here.
Have a great weekend!
* A lot of the information in this series was derived from Jody Johnston Powel's book, The Parent's Toolshop. Quite a bit is also from my own clinical experiences and opinions.*