Parent Counseling | Support | Highland Springs

Parenting is never easy, and it definitely doesn’t come with any kind of guidebook. Every family situation is different, and every child has a unique personality as well as individual needs. If you feel like you’re parenting strategies aren’t having any effect — or worse, are backfiring — or you aren’t even sure what strategies to use, you’re not alone. But it’s also possible to move forward in a positive way with parent counseling. 

Here are four parenting styles, how your parenting affects your children and where to find parenting counseling.

What Are the Four Parenting Styles?

The four main parenting styles are permissive, authoritative, uninvolved, and authoritarian. Most parents will find they fall mostly into one or possibly two categories, but it’s also likely that you may have a bit of each parenting style depending on the situation. In general, authoritative parenting is considered the healthiest. Learn more about the different parenting styles and their characteristics below to guide you on what kind of parent counseling will be most effective.

Permissive

Permissive parents tend to be the “fun” parents. They don’t have a lot of rules, and consequences are often very small or nonexistent. These parents may be worried about their children not liking them if they try to lay down rules or boundaries. They may be open to talking with their children about issues or problems they are facing, but they generally wait for their children to come to them and don’t initiate that contact.

Authoritative

Authoritative parenting is characterised by a healthy mixture of rules, boundaries and consequences. However, they are also able to take their children’s feelings and needs into account and adjust. Authoritative parents make time for their children, set clear expectations, and try to keep the lines of communication open. This includes creating regular time to talk with their children, even if the children aren’t coming to them first. Authoritative parents are involved in their children’s lives and try to know what is going on while still respecting their child’s privacy and autonomy.

Uninvolved

Uninvolved parents are also sometimes referred to as absent parents or uninterested parents. 

However, this isn’t always because they don’t care. It could be that they’re very busy, such as a single mom working two jobs for financial reasons. Uninvolved parents are similar to permissive parents in that there are usually little to no rules or boundaries for the child’s behavior. They also may show little interest in what their children are doing.

Authoritarian

Authoritarian parenting is often described as the opposite of permissive parenting. They are usually very strict rules — and sometimes many of them! — that may go beyond the usual and encroach on the child’s autonomy, such as demanding the child only wear white socks and enforcing consequences if they disobey. The golden rule with authoritarian parenting is “because I said so.” Parents with this style often equate obedience and submission to respect and politeness.

What Are the Four Parenting Styles?

The four main parenting styles are permissive, authoritative, uninvolved, and authoritarian. Most parents will find they fall mostly into one or possibly two categories, but it’s also likely that you may have a bit of each parenting style depending on the situation. In general, authoritative parenting is considered the healthiest. Learn more about the different parenting styles and their characteristics below to guide you on what kind of parent counseling will be most effective.

Permissive

Permissive parents tend to be the “fun” parents. They don’t have a lot of rules, and consequences are often very small or nonexistent. These parents may be worried about their children not liking them if they try to lay down rules or boundaries. They may be open to talking with their children about issues or problems they are facing, but they generally wait for their children to come to them and don’t initiate that contact.

Authoritative

Authoritative parenting is characterised by a healthy mixture of rules, boundaries and consequences. However, they are also able to take their children’s feelings and needs into account and adjust. Authoritative parents make time for their children, set clear expectations, and try to keep the lines of communication open. This includes creating regular time to talk with their children, even if the children aren’t coming to them first. Authoritative parents are involved in their children’s lives and try to know what is going on while still respecting their child’s privacy and autonomy.

Uninvolved

Uninvolved parents are also sometimes referred to as absent parents or uninterested parents. 

However, this isn’t always because they don’t care. It could be that they’re very busy, such as a single mom working two jobs for financial reasons. Uninvolved parents are similar to permissive parents in that there are usually little to no rules or boundaries for the child’s behavior. They also may show little interest in what their children are doing.

Authoritarian

Authoritarian parenting is often described as the opposite of permissive parenting. They are usually very strict rules — and sometimes many of them! — that may go beyond the usual and encroach on the child’s autonomy, such as demanding the child only wear white socks and enforcing consequences if they disobey. The golden rule with authoritarian parenting is “because I said so.” Parents with this style often equate obedience and submission to respect and politeness.

Do Parents Affect Child Behavior?

This is one of the most common questions from parents, and the resounding answer is yes! 

Various parenting and family experts have reported this anecdotally, but it’s also been shown in several studies. How you parent can affect every aspect of your child’s development, from how their brain forms when they are very young to their self-confidence and relationship with their peers when they’re older. This can sound like a lot of pressure, and it is, but it’s also important to remember that your parenting is not the only thing that affects your child’s behavior.

Child development doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and other factors that will impact your child’s behavior are:

  • Their biological and, specifically, neurological makeup
  • Interactions with other members of the family, such as grandparents and siblings
  • Peers, especially going into adolescence and the teenage years
Learn More At Highland Springs!

Highland Springs Clinic Parent Counseling

If you’ve recognized that there are some gaps in your parenting knowledge or are looking for new tools as you learn how to navigate the different parenting seasons, parenting therapy can help. 

Whether you’ve never engaged in parent counseling or therapy before or have only participated in therapy sessions focused on your own growth, it’s normal to have questions about what parenting therapy is like and what to expect. We’ve provided an overview of what happens during Highland Springs Clinic’s parenting counseling sessions to help you feel more prepared.

What Happens During a Parenting Counseling Session?

The goal of any counseling session is to help you understand what issues may be driving problem behaviors and thinking patterns and to give you the tools you need to overcome them. 

This is also true for parenting counseling. In most cases, your first session will focus on why you’ve decided to pursue therapy. The therapist will get some basic information about you and your current life stage and then ask questions about any pertinent mental health or family issues. This is often referred to as an intake session, and its purpose is also to start building the relationship and rapport between the therapist and the client.

After your intake session, normal therapeutic sessions will begin. In the case of parenting counseling, sessions can take place individually, with your spouse or co parent, with your child or with the entire family. 

Below we’ve provided an overview of what to expect in each of these situations for parent counseling:

  • Individual counseling. In individual counseling, your therapist will talk with you to get a better understanding of your life and the issues that have brought you to counseling. Sessions might focus on specific challenges you are facing, how to reframe thoughts and how to recognize how our own behaviors and patterns affect the family dynamic — often without us even being aware.
  • Couples counseling. It’s very common for couples to have disagreements when it comes to parenting, and when the parents aren’t on the same page, it can create chaos within the environment. Couples counseling will focus on helping both parents understand the root cause of issues and work to get on the same page. Sessions often involve positive conflict resolution and learning how to communicate more effectively.
  • Parent/child or family therapy. In some cases, the entire family dynamic needs to be addressed to move everyone forward in a more positive direction. Family therapy sessions can be a great way to ensure that everyone feels heard and to address long-term complex issues.

There are many more possible therapeutic techniques, and what your counselor uses will depend on your individual situation and may change over the course of the therapy. Your therapist may also suggest that you take parenting classes or join parenting support groups to help you connect with others experiencing similar issues. 

This can give you additional perspective and coping strategies, but it’s also helpful just to know that you aren’t alone in your challenges and to hear from people who have successfully navigated these same issues.

What Techniques Are Normally Used During Parenting Counseling?

While parenting counselors are trained in specific therapeutic techniques, you probably won’t notice anything specific. In many cases, much of the session will just seem like a regular conversation, but your therapist will ask specific questions and provide a different perspective. 

This is actually a therapeutic technique called talk therapy that is common in the mental health field. 

Your therapist may also employ a variety and/or combination of the following techniques:

  • Reframing. Reframing is a technique where the therapist helps you learn to reframe thoughts and words to make them more positive and productive. For example, a common reframing technique for speech is to say “I get to” instead of “I have to.” Your therapist may also have you stop when you get into an argument with your child and think three positive thoughts about them or the situation before you continue.
  • Recognizing cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are patterns of thought that don’t serve us well. There are several recognized cognitive distortions, but two of the more common ones are mind reading and catastrophizing. An example of mind reading would be if your teen grunts when you ask them to clean their room and you think, “They think I’m constantly nagging them and are purposefully being disrespectful.” However, maybe your child is worried about a big test tomorrow; you can’t know for sure without a discussion. Catastrophizing is taking things and making them worse than they are — for example, assuming that your rebellious teen is going to end up in jail. Your therapist will help you learn to recognize these distortions and reframe them when they happen.
  • Role play. With this technique, the therapist will often play the role of the child to give you a chance to practice new communication skills or parenting tactics.

When it comes to parenting, one of the biggest issues is just feeling like you’re able to understand and talk to your child and that they can understand and talk to you. This means that teaching clients how to communicate with each other and to recognize poor communication skills and replace them with better ones is a large part of parenting counseling.

If you’re having difficulty parenting your children or just want to intentionally be a better parent and break generational curses, it’s completely possible to make changes, and reaching out is the first step. 

At Highland Springs Clinic, we provide parent & family counseling services that focus on evidence-based therapeutic techniques to make a real difference in your everyday life with your children. We have licensed providers that specialize in everything from domestic violence trauma and sibling rivalries to LGBTQ issues and families who are dealing with grief and loss.

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