What parent am I?

Posted by Patrick Brown on April 4th, 2021

The incomparable satisfactions, in fact, alternate with moments of discouragement and tremendous concern. "Am I doing the right thing?" it is often the question that mum and dad ask themselves about the education and growth of their children. The answer, unfortunately or fortunately, is not there. But it is important to ask yourself, to foster an awareness of what you are doing, reflecting on your educational style. “What parent am I? “, In fact, it is another question that parents often ask themselves. And it is an interesting question. Not to find the answer in terms of right or wrong. On the contrary, to understand what works and what, on the other hand, can be improved for one peaceful growth of children.


Often there is a fear of making mistakes and not behaving properly. The biggest concern is the well-being of their children. Parents often ask themselves "What parent am I?". In fact, mom and dad tend to ask themselves questions about their role and the adequacy of the task they are carrying out. “What parent am I”, therefore, is a very common question among mothers and fathers. It leads to reflect on what they are doing and how they are fulfilling their educational role.

Faced with current historical, cultural and social changes, one often feels alone in building and carrying out one's role as a parent. Parents today read, inform themselves and ask themselves questions. They are parents who, then in the past, have more access to all kinds of information. Sometimes, one might say, too many. At the same time, however, there is a fear of making mistakes and a growing fear of not being able to educate children in the right way. Building your own educational model depends on many factors and asking yourself “What parent am I” is important to understand the direction you are taking and how you are moving. The type of parent you are, in fact, largely determines the well-being of the children and the type of adults they will become tomorrow.


What determines which parent I am? The educational style adopted depends on several factors. In fact, it is necessary to keep in mind among these also the values ​​and aims of the parents, together with the system of beliefs on the development that they embrace.

We can identify the presence of four educational styles.

AUTHORITARY educational style, characterized by a rigid and assertive style, not oriented to responding to the needs of the child. Authoritarian parents place great value on obedience, demanding respect for themselves and their values. There is strict control over the conduct of the little ones. In case they are not respected, often reference is made to punishments, including physical ones. Conversely, there are no praise and rewards when the rules are followed. There is no dialogue and constructive confrontation.

PERMISSIVE educational style, in which any form of authority towards children is absent. There is great love and affection, but disciplinary strategies are absent. Mum and Dad do not provide guidance and children are not supported on a regulatory level. There are no rules and there is little consistency on the discipline.

NEGLIGENT educational style, where parents neglect their children, reducing time and energy to interact with them. There is disengagement and disinterest, characterized by emotional distance. There is no dialogue or confrontation, and there is no support of any kind.

AUTHORITABLE educational style, characterized by a balance between warmth and discipline. Parents support and guide their children, fostering personal autonomy. Confrontation and dialogue are present, characterized by affective involvement. There are few clear and defined rules, which must be respected.


 WHAT PARENT AM I? THE AUTHORITARY PARENT.  An authoritarian educational style inhibits social relationships. Children are often anxious, because they are excessively overprotected and never put in a position to choose or decide. They are often passive and dependent, with little perception of themselves and their abilities. The self-esteem of children raised in an authoritarian climate is often low.

 WHAT PARENT AM I? THE PERMISSIVE PARENT. An educational style without discipline leads to raising children with no goals, who struggle to take responsibility. They are often not very mature from a social and cognitive point of view. Children raised in a permissive climate are more likely than others to be at risk of deviance. They often have difficulties in interpersonal relationships and develop feelings of inadequacy.

WHAT PARENT AM I? THE NEGLIGENT PARENT. A neglectful educational style favors the development of children who are not very mature from a cognitive and social point of view, isolated and more exposed to the risk of deviance. Self-esteem is often low and they tend to experience abandonment fantasies and a feeling of not being accepted.

 WHAT PARENT AM I? THE AUTHORITABLE PARENT. Studies show that an educational style based on authority promotes good self-esteem in children, who are able to develop confidence in their abilities. In fact, children are more competent and interested in the world around them. They have good self-regulation skills. They develop good adaptability. Even at school level, they show a better performance, also thanks to a positive attitude towards their skills.


The education of children depends on several factors, which influence each other. Among these, an important role is played by the beliefs of the parents. Beliefs are cognitive constructions based on experience. They orient and motivate educational actions. They understand, for example, ideas about children's development. It is very different, in fact, if a parent thinks he has a certain influence on the child's attitude or, on the contrary, if he thinks that the child is like that and he can only try to "correct" it. Similarly, it is different if a parent believes that some of the child's behaviors are modifiable or if, conversely, he thinks that some characteristics will remain unchanged and will never be able to change.

Also, an important role in defining what kind of parent I am is the perceived sense of self-efficacy. It affects parents' emotions, thoughts and goals. The sense of self-efficacy is the subjective perception of one's ability to succeed as parents. It arises from a combination of several factors. First, it develops from one's childhood experiences. In fact, all of us, first of being parents, are children. The messages of the social context in which the family is inserted also have a strong influence, but also current experiences, which provide feedback on one's way of being a parent. The degree of preparation for the role of mother or father also has a significant impact on one's sense of self-efficacy.

In recent years, moreover, attention has been placed on another interesting construct. It is about marital self-efficacy. The perception of being able to do it as a couple of parents, in fact, seems to mitigate the tensions and stress that the educational role entails. This is a powerful protective factor for the family and children.


Studies show that parents with high self-efficacy adopt an educational style conducive to the healthy and harmonious development of children. Parents who feel effective, in fact, are attentive to the needs of children, to which they respond adequately. They recognize and encourage the positive behaviors of their children. They use positive and warm expressions. They do not resort to physical punishment, which they replace reasoning and inductive discipline. Inductive discipline places dialogue at the center of the educational relationship. In fact, children are explained the consequences of actions on others. This favors the development of empathy and empowerment.

Parents with good self-efficacy encourage exchanges and interactions with children. Thus, cognitive, emotional, social and linguistic development is favored. In the face of problems, they are more proactive, adopting an active and coping-oriented attitude.


There are several ways of fulfilling one's educational role. It rarely happens to adopt a “pure” style, but we can often see the mixing of different modalities. It is rare, in fact, to see a parent who is always authoritarian, or always permissive. It is easier, however, to see a predominant style which, at times, is contaminated by different modalities. Being a parent is not easy and involves putting yourself on the line as a person. For this, ask yourself the question "What parent am I?" it can be useful, in order to readjust the shot where you feel that there is a need to improve. There is no handbook for the perfect parent. At the same time, however, one can learn from mistakes and continue to grow as a person and as a parent.

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Patrick Brown

About the Author

Patrick Brown
Joined: April 4th, 2021
Articles Posted: 1