Noticing patterns in parenting styles

Let’s examine your current parenting patterns and values. In each pair of statements, mark the one that you identify with most strongly, the one that “feels” most like you.

___ I respect the fact that my child has different tastes than I do.
___ I am often embarrassed by my child’s tastes.

___ I want my child to cooperate with me and I show my appreciation when she does.
___ I want my child to cooperate with me and I punish him when he doesn’t.

___ I’ve identified ten things that need to be done around the house every week. We’ll pass the list around so everyone can choose two.
___ I’ve identified ten things that need to be done around the house every week. Here are the two you each need to do.

___ My child can choose responsibly and still not choose what I would like.
___ I am reluctant to let my child make decisions because she may not choose what I would like.

___ I am willing to work for my child’s respect.
___ My child should respect me because I am his parent.

___ I believe my child is entitled to the same kind of respect, space, privacy, and power that I want.
___ My child can have those things when she gets her own house.

___ I enjoy my kid most of the time.
___ I don’t enjoy my kid most of the time.

___ My kid can manage OK even if I’m not there.
___ I cringe at the thought of leaving my kid alone.

___ This room needs to be picked up before dinner!
___ You kids are such inconsiderate slobs!

___ My child is allowed to express his feelings—including anger, sadness, and fear.
___ I try to discourage my child from feeling those things.

___ Your report card is terrific! All that hard work certainly paid off.
___ I’m so proud of you when you get good grades!

___ My kid finds cooperation personally rewarding.
___ My kid cooperates to please me (or avoid my anger).

___ Everyone works better when there is a meaningful payoff.
___ A kid should not have to be rewarded for doing what he is supposed to do.

___ I can feel like a successful parent even if my child makes dumb choices.
___ I can feel like a successful parent as long as my child cooperates (and doesn’t embarrass me).

___ I accept and validate my child’s feelings.
___ My child is simply too sensitive.

___ I value and encourage my child’s opinions.
___ A child should respect authority. It is disrespectful to challenge an adult’s opinions.

___ You’ll know your room is clean when the following five things are done.
___ Get upstairs and clean your room.

___ We have immediate consequences for misbehavior and broken agreements.
___ I frequently give my child warnings and reminders when he misbehaves or forgets to follow through on agreements.

___ Let’s watch this movie together when you finish the dishes.
___ Would you please wash the dishes for me?

___ I allow my child to experience the natural consequences of his poor choices.
___ I frequently rescue my child from the consequences of his poor choices.

___ Keep your soccer gear off the steps so no one trips over it.
___ Keep your soccer gear off the steps because I said so.

___ When my child is upset, I can support her without interfering with her feelings.
___ When my childr is upset, I believe I should try to cheer her up.

___ If you get your clothes in the hamper by Friday, I’ll be happy to wash them.
___ I feel angry when you don’t put your clothes in the hamper.

___ You can resume your telephone privileges as soon as you come up with a plan that will guarantee that I’ll get my messages.
___ I’ve had it! How many times do I have to tell you to take a message when somebody calls for me?

___What do you need to do about that?
___Here’s what you need to do about that.

___My child is capable of resolving conflicts with her friends.
___I often have to talk to my child’s friends (or their parents) when conflicts arise.

___I can support my child’s independent problem solving without doing it for him or telling him what to do.
___My advice and intervention are necessary to help my child solve problems.

___As soon as you finish your homework, you can come down and watch TV.
___You are not turning on that TV until your homework is done.

___I ask my kid to help plan meals.
___I decide on what we eat here.

___I spend time talking and doing things with my kid every day.
___I hardly ever see my kid.

___I attempt to work out solutions with my child that would allow us both to win.
___Negotiating with a child only encourages him to take ad advantage of you.

___I attempt to focus on the positive aspects of my child’s behavior.
___How will a child learn without “constructive” criticism?

___I encourage my child’s independence.
___I feel threatened by my child’s independence.

___I explain what I want from my child.
___My child should know what I want by now.

___I want my child to care about me.
___I don’t care if my child likes me as long as she respects me.

___I want my child to cooperate with me.
___I want my child to obey me.

___I may not accept my child’s mibehavior (or poor choices), but I can always accept my child.
___I find it difficult to accept my child if he misbehaves (or makes a poor choice).

___I am flexible and willing to change my own behavior to improve my relationship with my child.
___If only my child would shape up, we’d have a great relationship.

___I have clear and positive goals for myself as a parent.
___I just want to minimize conflict and embarrassment.

___I frequently tell my child that I love her.
___I am uncomfortable saying “I love you” to my child.

___I am able to meet my own needs and feel happy and successful, independent of my child.
___My happiness depends on my child’s ability to make positive, constructive choices.

This self-assessment has been adapted from Parents, Teens & Boundaries, by Dr. Jane Bluestein (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 1995).

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