By Louisa Thompson, Guest Contributor

Your family is your laboratory. If your parents give you a chance to make choices, mistakes, try different types of behavior, and experience the consequences, you learn what works, and you are preparing for life without your parents always there.

In this research project for my school, I am learning about different types of parenting and how they affect families. I am learning about effective strategies parents can use to help their children grow. I really care about parenting because my mom, Marjie Longshore of the Family Leadership Center in Yarmouth, is a parent educator in the democratic/Adlerian parenting style. Because she is a parent educator, I can see first hand the change that happens in families. I also see a benefit in my own behavior because my mom practices this type of parenting: I am more respectful, I can listen to other people, and I am more polite. The type of parent you have affects your behavior. For example, if your parents are permissive, you do not like it if things don’t go your way. If your parents are authoritarian, you are not listened to has much. While looking for sources, I also realized that good parenting has health benefits, along with helping kids be better prepared for the world.

One of the best sources I found on the Democratic Parenting Style was in Washington Parent. This blog post explains what democratic parenting is, how it is effective, and some ways to practice being a democratic parent. The author, Maureen McElroy, explains that there are different types of parenting. “Rather than the parent running the show (authoritarian) or the child steering the family (permissive), democratic households are based on respect for both the parent and the child.” It is clear that having an authoritarian or permissive parenting style leads to power struggles and arguments. In a democratic household, there are less arguments and there is respect for all family members. Another great point McElroy makes is about the crucial C’s. “The Crucial C’s include a sense of connection, feeling capable, having courage and feeling like he or she counts.” Connection, Capability, Courage and Count, are what all parents want their children to have so they can grow in to smart, caring, and creative adults. When a child feels connection and capability they have courage and they know that they matter/count in their family. The democratic parenting style helps families develop respect for each other and, in turn, the children learn how to respect others when they are away from their families.

Another source I found equally useful was a blog post called: What is Positive Discipline? A Brief Overview of an Adlerian Parenting Model. It explains what parents do that hurts children and how to fix it. One of my favorite quotes from this source is: “Positive discipline does not encourage pampering of children and aims to help children develop a sense that they are capable.” This quote is wonderful because it completely shows how if a pampered child was going off to college they would not be ready. If you help your child become capable, they will not only be ready, they will also feel good. Another great quote is “…rescuing kids from experiencing the consequences of their action is harmful to children in the long run.” This is also very important because children need to see what happens when they make a mistake, so they can learn from their mistake and become capable.

The last source I found very useful was from and NPR interview about the book The Self Driven Child. In this interview, Corey Turner talks with Bill Stixrud, a neuropsychologist who works with families. A quote from the interview that I like is: “Instead of trusting kids with choices — small at first, but bigger as adolescence progresses — many parents insist on micromanaging everything from homework to friendships. For these parents, Stixrud and Johnson have a simple message: Stop. Instead of thinking of yourself as your child’s boss or manager, try consultant.” I like this quote because, like many of the other quotes I have found, it talks about how children need responsibility. For a child to be happy they need limits and responsibilities. However, when parents are over the top with their limits or are constantly on their children, the child will rebel and there will be arguments. Another point from this source is “…we need to make peace with reality. And the reality is, you can’t make a kid do his work. And that means it can’t be the parent’s responsibility to ensure that the kid always does his homework and does it well.” These statements are important for all parents to hear and grow

In conclusion, I think that parents should grow their parenting style so that their kids can grow up to change the world in a good way. There are many different types of parenting styles, but after researching different types, I believe that the Democratic/Adlerian parenting style is the most successful. In my next blog post, I hope to learn more about what teens think about their parents and what a parent educator has to say on this topic of Democratic parenting.

Louisa Thompson is 15 years-old and a passionate advocate of Democratic Parent Education. She is the daughter of Marjie Longshore, founder of the Family Leadership Center. Louisa periodically writes for the FLC blog bringing a teen’s perspective on the topic of what makes for effective parenting. In her own words, “I care about my future. I care about the future of our society, and I believe that parent education is the key for creating a caring and connected world.” If you have a question for Louisa, please comment below.