Ever wonder if you’re too over protective about your child? Sometimes feel like you’re more of a friend than a parent? Wish there was a way to be more involved in your child’s life?

Identifying your preferred parenting style here can help you strike a healthy balance!

We Know: The Three Types of Parents
A few helpful hints on parenting from former middle school teacher and children's writer Molly Hersage.

Understanding the Parenting Spectrum

There is an identifiable parenting spectrum into which most parents fall. On either end of the spectrum lies an extreme form of parenting, one being Inactive Parents the other being Overly Active Parents. Either of these extremes can be damaging to a child’s progression through adolescence and onwards. As with any bell-shaped graph a majority of parents fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum and are known as Active Parents. However as a child reaches adolescence, and his behavior changes, posing new challenges to his parents, many adults will respond by exhibiting behaviors associated with one of the two extremes. This is because parents and children are more likely to be at odds during a child’s adolescence then at any other stage of development.

Inactive Parents Are Known As Vacation Parents

On the Inactive extreme end of the parenting spectrum are the Vacation Parents. Vacation parents steer away from the responsibilities of parenting and choose instead to devote themselves to other aspects of their lives. Vacation parents come in all shapes and sizes. The common denominator in vacation parents is their lack of investment in parenting and commitment to other aspects of their lives instead. Vacation parents are difficult to reach, short in their communication with others who seek to discuss their child, and often paralyzed in their ability to interact with their children. Activities that may keep vacation parents from being actively involved in their children’s lives are their jobs, their marriage/love life, hobbies, or other children.

Am I A Vacation Parent?

The easiest way to identify whether you may have vacation tendencies is to listen to the response you give a teacher, coach or other parent when they call you with a concern about your child. If your response is, “What do you want me to do?” you’re probably a vacation parent. Vacation parents behave as though they are on holiday from their children and are therefore unavailable for parenting.

Why am I Choosing to Be a Vacation Parent?

Reasons an adult might choose to be vacation parent can vary. You may have too much on your plate, and as much as you say you want to be involved in your child’s lives, you have not made the sacrifices necessary to prioritize your life differently. You might also choose to be a vacation parent simply because you are afraid of the responsibility that goes along with being an active parent (see "How to Listen to your Teenager" and "How to Set Boundaries with Your Teenager"). You could also fear you do not possess the wisdom and skills necessary to be an active parent, so you shy away from your child when she needs you the most, such as adolescence.

Overly Active Parents Are Known As In-Your-Face Parents

On the “overly active” extreme are the In-Your-Face parents. These parents are too involved in their child’s life, often overstepping the accepted boundaries between parent and child. They have taken the phrase, ‘I’d like to live vicariously through you’ and made it their reality. They are living for their children. Unfortunately, many are living only for their children and not themselves. If something happens to their child, it is as if that thing has happened to them too. In-your-face parents feel and act out their child’s feeling as if they were their own feelings. Their parenting interferes with their child’s development as an individual. Parents who are overly involved often assume their child possesses the same beliefs, emotions, and desires that they value.

Am I An In-Your-Face Parent?

It is easy to identify if you are an In-your-face parents because you will respond to questions on behalf or instead of your child. A loyal child will spend most of his childhood trying to interpret and memorize how you may respond to different situations. He will strive to please you and others he meets by imitating how they act, think, and feel. He will try to live his life for you, as you have devoted your life to living for him.

Why am I choosing to Be an In-Your-Face Parent?

You may wish your child to be as attentive and devoted to you as you are to her. The best way to achieve this level of commitment from another is to suggest only you know what is best for her. You may also fear who your child will become if you allow her to form thoughts, opinions and feelings of her own. Will you approve? Will she embarrass you with her differing ideas? Can you trust her? As an in-your-face parent you understand she is a reflection of you, and therefore any behaviors, actions or decisions she chooses will eventually lead back to you.

Active Parents

The center point of the parenting scale is active parenting. Active parenting is the most successful strategy in relating to adolescents. You are an active parent if you acknowledge your teen’s changes in emotion, behavior and desire as a natural part of adolescence. You are also objective in your judgment of your child’s actions and consistent in your communication with him (see We Know: How Parents Can Get Their Teenagers to Listen to Them!). As an active parent you acknowledge that your teenager may not want from you what he has needed in the past. You create an environment for open communication with him where he can feel comfortable sharing his feelings. Instead of trying to take on your child’s feelings, as an in-your-face parent might do, you wait for when he is ready to talk to you. Instead of feeling rejected by his changing moods through adolescence and pulling away, as a vacation parent might do, you remind him you are available, should he need you.

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