Are you a helicopter parent or a yes parent? A not-there parent or the perfect one? Christine Fieldhouse helps you figure it out
hen Leah’s two-year-old son Freddie starts a fight on a bouncy castle or at a play park, she looks the other way or smiles sweetly at another child, pretending he’s not hers. Her sister Jemima is usually there, hovering over her own daughter in case she trips, hears a swear word or needs to blow her nose. Not far away, their mutual friend Kate is sending out work emails – she hasn’t seen her children for at least half an hour, but she hasn’t heard any screams so she assumes they’re safe enough.
We all have our own style of raising children. Some parents play by the rule book, with everything from mealtimes, screen time, play dates and homework set in stone, while others are so laid-back, some days they just about manage to get out of bed and their children look after themselves.
Many of us are in between, with parenting tips we picked up from our own parents. We even say some of the same things. “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” and, “If you don’t brush your teeth, you won’t have any by the time you’re 40,” we repeat two or three decades after we first heard our parents saying those exact words.
Experts say parenting is usually a learned behaviour. If we remember our parents as fair, we copy their techniques, but if we question the way we were parented, we often do exactly the opposite.
“Most of us are influenced by our own parents,” says parenting expert Sue Atkins, author of Raising Happy Children (Wiley). “That’s fine if it works for you, but if your parent was very strict and you have memories of being shouted at or humiliated, you’re more likely to be a pushover with your own children.
“We even remember and repeat the things our parents told us, even though we live in a different world to the one we were brought up in.”
Coaches believe there are five types of parents – here they analyse each one and give advice on how to tone down that style of parenting if it isn’t working for you or your children...