There are many styles of parenting that have been well researched. Most moms will take some parts from the different types to find the best fit for their family. Child development experts agree the authoritative style of parenting has the best possible outcomes, for both parents and children.
An authoritative parent sets boundaries while providing support and explanations to their child. They discipline their child without punitive measures with the belief that when given the proper guidance and understanding, children will make wise choices.
Supportive parenting falls within the authoritative style of parenting. Supportive parents focus their efforts on saying yes whenever possible to their children.
According to Psychology Today, supportive parents seek more opportunities to say yes to their children in encouraging ways to help kids develop confidence and self-esteem. Critics might view this approach as a permissive, laissez-faire attitude toward parenting. However, those that practice supportive parenting set boundaries for their children.
We are going to look at the tenets of supportive parenting and the possible outcomes when this style of parenting is chosen.
It is natural for moms to be in charge, and to have set plans, and expectations for how the day will go. Of course, there are many things in the day that are important and necessary, like attending school or taking care of personal hygiene. There are however many opportunities for a child to make their own choices within the day.
Supportive parents give their children the autonomy to decide for themselves whenever possible. Simple ways to say yes to a child would include their preferred interests, activities, and the order in which they choose to do things.
Supportive parents focus on how often they are saying no because they believe this can potentially have negative emotional outcomes.
Supportive parents set firm boundaries around safety, health, and family values. They will have rules to keep their child safe and healthy. Certain things like wearing a helmet while riding a bike would be enforced, regardless of whether the child wants to or not.
Supportive parents will also help their children to make healthy food choices. They likely would not deprive them of sweets in moderation but would explain to them why healthy food choices are important for growing bodies. Family values such as honesty, kindness, and responsibility will also guide the boundaries or rules in a home with supportive parents.
Communication & Mutual Respect
Supportive parents promote open communication. They will provide explanations for their boundaries or requests.
According to Verywell Mind, "parents expect a lot of their children, but they provide warmth, feedback, and adequate support."
Supportive parents are flexible and willing to listen to their child's points of view. They do not impose rules or use their authority with the old adage of "because I said so." This doesn't mean the child rules the home. Instead, parents will place a priority on activities such as sitting together at mealtime, supporting sibling interests or being responsible for contributing to the home. Through these activities, parents are fostering mutual respect, empathy, and cooperation.
A challenge that comes with the territory of being a supportive parent is allowing your child to make mistakes. As adults, we have the foresight to understand the consequences of our actions and often want to keep our children from that negative experience. Parents should always intervene when it comes to safety, but generally, children do learn from their mistakes.
After presenting the facts, supportive moms would then allow their child to make their own decisions. For example, a mom warns her teen that tomorrow will be an early start, so they may want to turn off the video games and head to bed. If the teen chooses not to do that and stays up anyway, the natural consequence is they are tired the next day.
A supportive parent will still hold them to the responsibilities of the day, but not add a punishment for staying up late. A supportive parent trusts that a child will learn responsibility, given parental guidance and the opportunity to make their own decisions.
How Supportive Parenting Affects Children
According to Parenting For Brain, supportive parenting "promotes children's positive outcomes such as intrinsic motivation, academic performance, learning, well-being, social emotional development, and psychosocial adjustment."
When parents empower a child to make choices, this helps the child to feel confident in their own abilities. They are more motivated to be helpful, responsible, and respectful because they understand the value of doing things for themselves and for others.
Additionally, children who have been given autonomy in their environment are less likely to deal with depression or anxiety and have higher life satisfaction overall.
As discussed above, supportive parents do not say yes to appease their children, dodge involvement, or allow them to do whatever they wish. They choose to guide their children by teaching decision-making skills, rather than controlling or dictating. Supportive parenting can be practiced from the toddler years through the teenage years.