Pushover parent or pushy parent

Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

When it comes to how you interact and discipline your kids, are you more like a doormat or Mack truck? Do you rollover your children or do they rollover you?

Researchers have identified four basic parenting styles based on disciplinary strategies, warmth and nurturing, communication styles, and expectations of maturity and control.

What is your parenting style?

Authoritarian Parenting is the first type. Children are expected to follow strict rules without an explanation of why and parents may reply, “Because I’m the parent and I said so!” These parents tend to be perceived as overly controlling and punishing. Authoritarian parenting style generally leads to children who are obedient but passive, but they appear lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem. A strong-willed child will rebel and push back.

Authoritative (similar word, but different meaning) is second. Parents establish rules and guidelines, but the parents are willing to listen to children and explain causes and consequences for behavior. Kids learn clear standards and how to solve problems. This style tends to result in children who are happy, capable and successful. Children learn they can express their opinions even if the parents have different views. These parents tend to be more nurturing and forgiving and are willing to negotiate and compromise on some issues.

Permissive Parenting tends to be seen as indulgent, and they rarely discipline their kids. This type of parenting is nurturing, but parents want to seen as more of a friend. This parenting style often results in children who rank lower in happiness and self-regulation. These children may have problems with authority figures at school and in the community.

Uninvolved Parenting, the fourth type, meets the child’s basic needs, but they are generally detached from their kid’s life experiences. These children tend to lack self-regulation, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers. In some cases, these parents may neglect the needs of their kids. These children feel unloved and rejected.

Why does the Authoritative Parenting style have advantages over other the types? Children believe in fairness and will listen and comply when they perceive fairness. Children learn to communicate, connect actions to consequences and learn from mistakes. They learn to manage their emotions and self-regulate.

Parents often have different parenting styles and, therefore, they need to communicate and cooperate on discipline. If the mother is overly strict and the father is overly permissive, the mom may be viewed as the “bad guy,” while the dad is viewed as the “good guy.” If both parents are overly demanding, a child may become a perfectionist and develop unrealistic expectations or just give up on academics and school activities.

Of course, there are other factors involved in parenting like a child’s temperament and personality, culture, social influences, physical and mental health issues. Blended families have an effect on disciplinary styles. Individual parents and partners bring their own unique ways of doing things into their families.

Answer the following questions: Do you get into power struggles with your children? If so, then someone wins and someone loses. Are you the queen of bossiness? Are you the king of yelling? How do you react when your kids misbehave? What are your goals of parenting? Do you calmly communicate? Are you consistent with discipline? Do you discipline by spanking or screaming? Do you often lose your cool?

Parenting Resources

“Your toddler throws a tantrum in the middle of a store. Your preschooler refuses to get dressed. Your fifth-grader sulks on the bench instead of playing on the field. Do children conspire to make their parents’ lives endlessly challenging? No, it’s just their developing brain calling the shots!” I suggest the parenting book “The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive” by Daniel Siegel, M.D. and Tina Bryson, Ph.D. The authors explain the new science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures.

“No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind” by the same authors, Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson. The authors present principles of whole-brain parenting and discipline techniques, facts on child brain development, and how to set clear and consistent limits.

Learning how to be a more effective parent is beneficial to the entire family. Yes, change is scary, but it is necessary.


Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.